Adults with ADHD face a number of difficulties in their life. They are more apt to have relationship problems, get divorced, lose a job, get more speeding tickets and be involved in more car accidents during their lifetime. According to a new study, they can add one more problem: premature death.
The study, completed at Aarhus University in Denmark, found that those with ADHD had more than twice the risk of premature death. With ADHD women having the highest risk. The researchers looked at almost 2 million people and did follow up for over 32 years. Of the participants, 32,061 were diagnosed with ADHD and more than one-fourth of those were women.
Some of the results of the study:
- Children diagnosed before the age of 6 years old had double the risk of premature death, as compared to children without ADHD.
- For those diagnosed after the age of 18 years old, the risk was much higher than those diagnosed as children - a mortality rate ratio (MRR) of 4.25 for those diagnosed as adults as compared to a MRR of 1.58 for those diagnosed as children.
- Women had a much higher mortality rate than men did with an MRR of 3.01 for women and 1.93 for men.
The increase, according to the researchers, was attributed to unnatural causes of death, with accidents being the highest cause of death. Car accidents are one concern; previous research has shown that teens with ADHD were more likely to be injured in a car accident than their non-ADHD counterparts. The researchers in this study concluded that "ADHD is a serious driver’s disability."
In a commentary that accompanied the study in the Lancet, Dr. Stephen Faraone, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in New York, points out that this study adds to the evidence that ADHD is a serious medical condition. Parents and adults with ADHD, however, should realize that the increased risk is still a low absolute risk and that early identification and evidence-based treatments can lower the risk of prematurely dying from accidents and other unnatural causes.
For more information on ADHD and driving safety:
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.