Professional News
CDC To Fund Major Study Of ADHD Risks, Treatment
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 6 page 13-13

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is funding what appears to be the largest community-based epidemiologic study of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Catherine Lesesne, M.P.H., a behavioral scientist at the center, said that the research will focus on the prevalence and treated prevalence of ADHD in children, the existence of comorbid and secondary conditions in children with ADHD, the types and rates of health risk behaviors in children with ADHD, and current and previous treatment patterns for children with ADHD.

Lesesne said three sites will be funded with $250,000 each. They are the University of South Carolina (principal investigator, Robert E. McKeown, Ph.D.); the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (principal investigator, Mark L. Wolraich, M.D.); and Eastern Virginia Medical School (principal investigator, Gretchen B. LeFever, Ph.D.).

"We are looking for the researchers to provide screening in a school-based setting for at least 5,000 children," Lesesne told Psychiatric News. Ideally, she said, the goal is to obtain prevalence rates for children aged 4 to 10, though 4-year-olds may be harder to find if they are not yet in the school system.

A somewhat novel aspect will be an attempt to describe health-risk behaviors in children with ADHD, such as sleep behavior, truancy, smoking, bullying, or fighting. "Ultimately, we want to better describe in a community sample the types of risk behaviors and try to understand what impact those might have in the long term," Lesesne said.

Lesesne said that the CDC began looking at the public health implications of ADHD in 1998 and held a conference in 1999 on the subject. It was there that a research agenda was outlined that forms the basis for the new grants.

Part of that agenda included developing a mechanism for public dissemination of health education information about ADHD. In keeping with that goal, the center has since been able to provide $750,000 to Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a nonprofit support group, to develop a national resource center for disseminating public information.

"We were able to fund CHADD to improve its ability to serve this educational purpose," Lesesne said. "CHADD will now be operating a live call-in center and be working to disseminate accurate and valid information about ADHD."

"This is a monumental development in CHADD’s history and a significant milestone in recognizing the challenges faced by persons with ADHD," said E. Clarke Ross, chief executive officer of CHADD. "The national government’s leading public health agency has declared that ADHD is not only a valid disorder, but is significant and serious enough to warrant a national resource center for obtaining and disseminating science-based research and information."

More information about CHADD is posted on the Web at www.chadd.org.

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