A new study has found that teenagers who are diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at an early age are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and car accidents, calling for better monitoring of health risks.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that primary care providers (PCPs) rarely discuss safe driving and risky sexual behavior with teens having ADHD, although they generally discuss substance abuse, depression, and suicide risk.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, found that children who are diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 10 are at a greater risk of medical and behavioral concerns throughout their adolescence.
Senior study author Thomas Power said, “These findings identify opportunities to improve the care of adolescents with a history of ADHD.”
“Although doctors do a good job screening for many behavioral health risks, like suicide risk and depression, we need to be more aware of the dangers associated with driving and sexual health,” he continued.
“For example, our previous research shows teens with ADHD are more likely to be involved in a car accident particularly in the first month after receiving their driver’s license, so this is definitely an issue that should be discussed with our patients,” he added.
The researchers found that drug abuse, especially sharing drugs among youth, has been another major concern among teenagers with ADHD, which is once again rarely discussed by the PCPs.
“We have found that clinicians are more skilled in addressing ADHD in childhood than in adolescence,” said Power. “Additional resources and training are needed so we can ensure primary care clinicians are providing the best care for patients with ADHD as they develop through their teenage years.”