PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
This study examined the association between asthma and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in a clinical pediatric sample.
Children with asthma and ADHD symptoms.
Demographic and neuropsychological data for children with a billing diagnosis of ADHD were extracted from a clinical database. Families completed standard rating scales. Seventy-one patients with a comorbid asthma diagnosis were identified and matched by age to a group of 71 patients with only ADHD.
Children with asthma and ADHD were more likely to display clinically elevated levels of hyperactivity, externalizing behaviors, anxiety, and hyperactive and/or impulsive behaviors compared with children with ADHD alone. Boys with asthma and ADHD had more symptoms than boys with only ADHD of somatization and emotional internalizing, while girls with asthma and ADHD had more symptoms of hyperactivity and/or impulsivity, conduct problems, anxiety, and emotional internalizing compared with girls with only ADHD.
Findings suggest that in children with ADHD, comorbid asthma is associated with increased behavioral and internalizing symptoms, with distinct sex differences present. Increased behavioral and internalizing symptoms seen in children with both asthma and ADHD may be due to the burden of their medical condition. No difference was found in cognitive variables, suggesting chronic hypoxia may be less influential in explaining these differences. Future research should determine the specific mechanisms of these differences.
Clinicians are often faced with dilemmas when caregivers focus on the impact of controller and rescue medications on behavior in addition to managing the chronic nature of asthma. In children with ADHD and similar disorders, the authors note that these learning disabilities can impact how children potentially perceive their symptoms, and they can affect the ability of the children to self-manage. In addition, the specific sex differences can impact how children may respond to both asthma treatment and their ability to manage, which clinicians should take into account when creating asthma treatment plans with caregivers.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics