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Domestic Violence may Raise the Risk of ADHD in Children

Update Date: Feb 06, 2013 06:33 AM EST

Children witnessing intimate partner violence and depression at home have an increased risk of ADHD and may have to stay on psychotropic medication for the rest of their lives, according to a new study.

According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S., about 12 million people, both men and women, are victims of domestic violence. Worldwide, about 15 to 71 percent women report intimate partner violence, data from The World Health Organization says.

The present study included data from 2,422 children who were part of a prospective cohort study that assessed the link between intimate partner violence and depression, HealthDay reported. 

Researchers found that children whose parents reported IPV or depression were more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in preschool.

"Exposure to both IPV and depression before age 3 years is associated with preschool-aged onset of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; early exposure to parental depression is associated with being prescribed psychotropic medication," the authors wrote.

ADHD or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is characterized with the inability in paying attention, controlling behavior and being overtly active, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The condition is rapidly increasing in the U.S., with one out of every 10 children showing symptoms of ADHD. The condition can't be cured but can be successfully controlled.

New ADHD cases increased from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010, an increase of about 24 percent, a recent study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics had reported. During the same period, ADHD diagnosis for black girls rose by 90 percent.

A related study on domestic abuse conducted by World Health Organization found that women who are abused by their partners are "twice as likely as non-abused women to have poor health and physical and mental problems, even if the violence occurred years before."

The present study found that it is not just the intimate partners that are affected by the violence and depression, but also the children in the family, showing that domestic violence is a versatile event that affects many people, usually for life.

The present study is published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.                                                   

Low income, low levels of education and more importantly, witnessing partner violence during childhood increases the risk of a person turning into either a perpetuator or a victim of domestic violence.

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