Latimer: ADHD and the risk of premature death

A recent study in Denmark has shown those diagnosed with ADHD have twice the risk of premature death.

I have written several articles in the past about ADHD and its symptoms.

In addition to hallmark difficulties concentrating or staying on task, some other common traits of ADHD include impulsive behaviour, risk taking, increased likelihood of substance abuse and a reduced ability to foresee consequences of actions.

Some of these characteristics seem to lead to an increase in risk for accidents and injuries among those with ADD. Studies have shown, for example, that those with the condition are more likely to get in motor vehicle accidents.

A recent study in Denmark has shown those diagnosed with ADHD have twice the risk of premature death and a lower life expectancy than those without ADHD.

The study, published in The Lancet, examined the health records of 1.92 million people born in Denmark between 1981 and 2011 and followed until 2013.

Roughly 32,000 of them were diagnosed with ADHD. During the study, just over 5,000 people died—107 with ADHD.

The mortality rate for those with ADHD was twice the average mortality rate and accidents were the most common cause of death (42 of the 107 deaths).

Mortality was higher for girls and women as well as for those diagnosed in adulthood. Co-existing oppositional disorder, conduct disorder or substance use further increased the mortality risk.

Researchers in the study say that although overall risk of death was still low in this study, these results point to the importance of early diagnosis and proper management of ADHD.

Although this study is certainly important, death is not usually the first concern to cross the mind when dealing with ADHD.

Children and adults living with this condition usually experience lost opportunities and difficulty functioning in school, work and relationships because of their symptoms.

ADD affects roughly five per cent of the population. It is a condition that starts in childhood and often continues throughout life.

It is not the result of diet, poor parenting or a weak character, but results from differences in the brain.

Treatment strategies including education about the condition, behavioural techniques and medication can all help individuals with ADD to reach their goals in life.

If you think you or your child are experiencing ADHD, speak with your doctor to arrange for an assessment by a qualified mental health professional.