Is there a correlation between ADHD symptom expression between parents and children?

BACKGROUND: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental health disorders in childhood; symptoms persist into adulthood in a majority of patients. It is among the most heritable of psychiatric disorders with a high risk for familial aggregation and has been linked in adulthood with impairment across a variety of domains, including parenting. Parental gender, ADHD status and symptom expression could be related to the severity of ADHD symptoms in the child.

METHODS: We used prospective, observational study of clinical group of 30 children with diagnosed ADHD and control group of 37 healthy subjects. Only children with both biological parents available were included. Data on ADHD symptomatology for all subjects was gathered by a set of clinical tools (CBCL1991, TRF1991, WURS, self-report scale modified from DSM IV). Under the assumption that ADHD is a dimensional disorder, raw scores from questionnaires were used as they display the complete range of values.

RESULTS: Clinical group showed higher values in all areas of children symptomatology, the same was observed for parental ADHD symptomatology. Significant correlation was found between children and paternal current ADHD symptomatology in the clinical group. This was not confirmed for mothers.

CONCLUSION: Our study stresses an importance of screening for ADHD symptoms in parents of clinically referred children with ADHD as the correlation between severity of paternal and child's ADHD symptoms was confirmed. Our results stress the importance of including the father into the clinical assessment.

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