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ADHD Symptoms May Add to Burden of Autism

FRIDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Attention and hyperactivity problems worsen quality of life for many children with autism, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 2,000 children and adolescents in the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network's Registry and found that more than half of them had symptoms of either attention or hyperactivity problems. More than a third had significant symptoms of both.

The study also found that more than one-third of the children with an autism spectrum disorder had symptoms suggesting they may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and about 10 percent were taking stimulant medications typically used to treat ADHD. This suggests that many children with autism and ADHD symptoms are not taking medications to treat ADHD symptoms.

The presence of ADHD symptoms further compromises the ability of children with autism to deal with daily situations, which might lead to a lower quality of life, said the researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and Oregon Health Sciences University.

It's important to identify ADHD symptoms in children with autism so that they can be treated for such symptoms, the researchers said in a network news release. They added that further research is needed to determine whether stimulant medications improve ADHD symptoms in children with autism.

The findings were scheduled for presentation Sunday at the annual meeting of the Society for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics in San Antonio, Texas.

Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary as it has not been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny required for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about autism.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Autism Treatment Network, news release, Sept. 18, 2011

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