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Victims of Child Abuse Seven Times More Likely to Develop ADD/ADHD

Update Date: Mar 06, 2014 08:27 PM EST

Victims of child abuse are seven times more likely to develop Attention Deficit Disorder of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in adulthood, a new study suggests.

New findings revealed that 30 percent of adults with ADD or ADHD report they were physically abused compared to seven percent of ADD or ADHD who were physically abused before 18.

"This strong association between abuse and ADD/ADHD was not explained by differences in demographic characteristics or other early adversities experienced by those who had been abused," lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Professor and Sandra Rotman Chair at University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, said in a news release. "Even after adjusting for different factors, those who reported being physically abused before age 18 had seven times the odds of ADD/ADHD."

The latest study involved a representative sample of 13,054 adults aged 18 and over in the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey. Researchers said that 1,020 respondents reported childhood physical abuse and 64 respondents who reported that they had been diagnosed by a health professional with either ADHD or ADD.

"Our data do not allow us to know the direction of the association. It is possible that the behaviors of children with ADD/ADHD increase parental stress and the likelihood of abuse," co-author Rukshan Mehta, a graduate of the University of Toronto's Master of Social Work program, said in a statement. "Alternatively, some new literature suggests early childhood abuse may result in and/or exacerbate the risk of ADD/ADHD."

"This study underlines the importance of ADD/ADHD as a marker of abuse. With 30 per cent of adults with ADD/ADHD reporting childhood abuse, it is important that health professionals working with children with these disorders screen them for physical abuse," concluded co-author Angela Valeo from Ryerson University.

The findings are published in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment, and Trauma.

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