Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

ADD & ADHD Health Center

Font Size

Childhood ADHD Often Persists Into Adulthood

By Megan Brooks
Medscape Medical News

March 4, 2013 -- Nearly 30% of children with ADHD continue to struggle with the condition as adults, and some may develop other mental health issues, commit suicide, or end up in jail, a new study shows.

"We suffer from the misconception that ADHD is just an annoying childhood disorder that’s overtreated," researcher William Barbaresi, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital, says in a prepared statement. "This couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to have a chronic-disease approach to ADHD as we do for diabetes. The system of care has to be designed for the long haul."

The study is published in Pediatrics.

Fivefold Increase in Suicide

The study included more than 5,700 adults separated into two groups: One with childhood ADHD and the other without ADHD to serve as a comparison.

Out of 367 participants who had childhood ADHD, 232 were followed into adulthood. At age 27, nearly 30% had adult ADHD.

According to the researchers, nearly 57% of adults with childhood ADHD had at least one other mental health issue as adults, compared with 35% of adults without childhood ADHD. The most common mental health problems were substance abuse or dependence, antisocial personality disorder, mild forms of mania, generalized anxiety, and major depression.

Death from suicide was nearly five times higher among adults with childhood ADHD, the researchers write.

Among all 367 adults with childhood ADHD, seven (1.9%) had died, three of them from suicide. Of 4,946 people without ADHD, only 37 (0.7%) had died, five by suicide.

Ten people who’d had childhood ADHD (2.7%) were in jail at the time of recruitment for the study.

Need to Improve Long-Term Treatment

The researchers write that ADHD "should no longer be viewed as a disorder primarily affecting the behavior and learning of children, but as a major health condition that confers increased risk" for death, social adversity in the form of criminal behavior, persistence of ADHD into adulthood, and higher rates of other mental health problems.

This study "speaks to the need to greatly improve the long-term treatment of children with ADHD and provide a mechanism for treating them as adults," researcher Slavica Katusic, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., says in a prepared statement.

Today on WebMD

Post it notes
Symptoms and treatments.
Close up of eye
What's zapping your focus?
man driving car
How to manage your impulses.
contemplating woman
Learn to stop procrastinating.
concentration killers
Woman taking a vitamin or supplement
ADHD and Substance Abuse
Reduce Side Effects ADHD Medications

boy eating egg
smiling man
ADHD in Marriage and Romantic Relationships
Adult man lying awake in bed