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Adult ADHD Linked to Chronic Illnesses, According to Study

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A recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry earlier this month looked at the risk that individuals with adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have with developing other chronic health conditions.

Researchers in Sweden collected data of full-sibling and maternal half-sibling pairs born between Jan 1, 1932, and Dec 31, 1995, through the Population and Multi-Generation Registers.  Data from 4, 789, 799 individuals was used in this study.

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The study found that adults with ADHD were more likely to develop different chronic illnesses and other physical health conditions than those without adult ADHD. These conditions fell under nervous system, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and metabolic diseases. These conditions include:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Dementia
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

More studies are needed to understand why individuals with ADHD may be at higher risk for developing these conditions. “Other explanations might be that the higher risk for these physical conditions in ADHD is due to common causal environmental risk factors, or that one condition increases the risk of the other via environmental mechanisms, or both,” the researchers wrote.

Different factors could contribute to people with adult ADHD developing chronic health conditions. In an article for The Mighty, Camille J. attributed her procrastination affecting her ability to sleep. “I always fail to go to bed when I intend to and can’t shut down my brain to sleep,” she wrote. In addition, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, “nearly 20 in 100 adults with epilepsy may also have ADHD, whereas 2.5 to 4 out of 100 adults have the disorder in the general population.”

If doctors are able to predict which conditions people with ADHD may be at risk for, it could influence treatment. “Identifying co-occurring physical diseases may have important implications for treating adults with ADHD and for benefiting the long-term health and quality of life of patients,” lead author Ebba Du Rietz, postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, said in a press release.

Image via Getty Images/fizkes

Originally published: July 14, 2021
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