What happens to children with ADHD as they grow into adulthood? Does their illness continue to affect them once they reach maturity? If they take medication, does it cause permanent changes in the brain? Are they able to enjoy full, successful, productive lives?
These are some of the questions that NYU Child Study Center researchers Rachel Klein, Ph.D., and F. Xavier Castellanos, M.D., set out to answer when they undertook a first-of-its-kind longitudinal study of children whom Dr. Klein had first worked with in the 1970s, now in their 40s.
Dr. Klein's portion of the study, which focused on life outcomes, found that around 20 percent of children with ADHD go on to develop antisocial personality disorder--placing them at higher risk for this disorder than the general population. The disorder can have serious consequences, as these individuals face greater likelihood of substance abuse, criminality, divorce, and even death.
Dr. Castellanos focused on changes in the brain, and he found that brain differences continue to exist in these individuals, even when their ADHD symptoms subsided in adulthood. He also found that there were no permanent changes to the brain due to long-term use of ADHD medications. You can read more about his findings in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Drs. Klein and Castellanos presented their research at the NYU Child Study Center's Grand Rounds on Feb. 24, 2012. A video of their complete presentation is available above. Below, Dr. Klein offers a brief description of their findings in regard to outcomes in adulthood and antisocial personality disorder, including advice for parents and caregivers.
You can see more videos from the NYU Child Study Center's expert clinicians and Grand Rounds speakers on the NYU CSC YouTube channel.