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Decline in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder traits over the life course in the general population: trajectories across five population birth cohorts spanning ages 3 to 45 years

Wootton, Robyn E., Riglin, Lucy, Blakey, Rachel, Agnew-Blais, Jessica, Caye, Arthur, Cadman, Tim, Havdahl, Alexandra, Gonçalves, Helen, Menezes, Ana M. B., Wehrmeister, Fernando C., Rimfeld, Kaili, Davey Smith, George, Eley, Thalia C., Rohde, Luis Augusto, Arseneault, Louise, Moffitt, Terrie E., Stergiakouli, Evie, Thapar, Anita and Tilling, Kate 2022. Decline in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder traits over the life course in the general population: trajectories across five population birth cohorts spanning ages 3 to 45 years. International Journal of Epidemiology 51 (3) , pp. 919-930. 10.1093/ije/dyac049

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Abstract

Background Trajectories of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) traits spanning early childhood to mid-life have not been described in general populations across different geographical contexts. Population trajectories are crucial to better understanding typical developmental patterns. Methods We combined repeated assessments of ADHD traits from five population-based cohorts, spanning ages 3 to 45 years. We used two measures: (i) the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) hyperactive-inattentive subscale (175 831 observations, 29 519 individuals); and (ii) scores from DSM-referenced scales (118 144 observations, 28 685 individuals). Multilevel linear spline models allowed for non-linear change over time and differences between cohorts and raters (parent/teacher/self). Results Patterns of age-related change differed by measure, cohort and country: overall, SDQ scores decreased with age, most rapidly declining before age 8 years (-0.157, 95% CI: -0.170, -0.144 per year). The pattern was generally consistent using DSM scores, although with greater between-cohort variation. DSM scores decreased most rapidly between ages 14 and 17 years (-1.32%, 95% CI: -1.471, -1.170 per year). Average scores were consistently lower for females than males (SDQ: -0.818, 95% CI: -0.856, -0.780; DSM: -4.934%, 95% CI: -5.378, -4.489). This sex difference decreased over age for both measures, due to an overall steeper decrease for males. Conclusions ADHD trait scores declined from childhood to mid-life, with marked variation between cohorts. Our results highlight the importance of taking a developmental perspective when considering typical population traits. When interpreting changes in clinical cohorts, it is important to consider the pattern of expected change within the general population, which is influenced by cultural context and measurement.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0300-5771
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 April 2022
Date of Acceptance: 15 March 2022
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2022 07:36
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/149188

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