ADHD with developmental coordination disorder: 24-year follow-up of a population-based sample
Landgren V, Fernell E, Gillberg C, Landgren M, Johnson M.
BMC Psychiatry. 2021 Mar 22;21(1):161.
Commentary* by Dr. Margaret Weiss: Developmental coordination disorder is not an uncommon, impairing condition with neurodevelopmental disorders, which is often missed. Questions about coordination should be part of clinical assessment and use of a measure such as the Developmental Coordination Disorder Questionnaire used as appropriate.
Background: Although the body of research concerning neurodevelopmental disorders is vast, there is a scarcity of longitudinal studies beyond late adolescence, and of studies taking co-existing disorders into account. The present study aimed to investigate outcome in adulthood for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) combined with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) diagnosed at 6.6 years of age.
Methods: Out of a screening-based population cohort of 589 individuals, 62 (10 female) diagnosed with ADHD+DCD at mean age 6.6 years naïve to stimulant treatment were followed into adulthood through national registries. Results were compared to a screen- and assessment negative population matched group from the same cohort (PM group, n = 51) and a registry-matched (RM group, n = 410) group of the same county and age.
Results: At 30 to 31 years of age, five deaths had occurred; one in the ADHD+DCD group and two each in the comparison groups. In time to event analyses of the composite outcome of any psychiatric disorder, psychotropic prescription, sick pension or criminal sentence, events occurred at a significantly higher rate in the ADHD+DCD group (p = 0.0032, vs PM group p = 0.0115, vs RM group p = 0.0054). The ADHD+DCD group had significantly higher rates of psychiatric diagnoses, prescriptions of psychoactive medications and occurrence of sick pension than both comparison groups. Further, the ADHD+DCD group had significantly lower educational attainment compared to both comparison groups, more years with unemployment, and overall higher welfare recipiency. Rates of pain diagnoses and analgesic prescriptions did not separate the groups.
Conclusion: ADHD+DCD entailed a less favorable outcome in adulthood compared to a non-clinical comparison group and a registry-matched population. Neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosed upon school entry is of prognostic utility with respect to function in adulthood, and warrants early identification and management.
* Abstracts are selected for their clinical relevance by Dr. Margaret Weiss, Director of Clinical Research, Child Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard University. Her commentary reflects her own opinion. It is not approved or necessarily representative of the CADDRA board.