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Symptoms of Attention Deficit at Age 4 Predict Difficulties Throughout Childhood

Wednesday, April 23th, 2014

Symptoms of Attention Deficit at Age 4 Predict Difficulties Throughout Childhood

The presence of symptoms of attention deficit in a 4-year-old child predicts that they will continue to have attention difficulties later on, according to a study by CREAL, an ISGlobal research centre, that evaluated symptoms in 400 children from Menorca. According to Mònica Lopez, researcher and the study’s lead author, "We can now say that at 4 years it is already possible to observe indications that a child will have attention difficulties during childhood, either ADHD or otherwise”.

The researchers focused on symptoms such as lack of attention, excessive movement, or impulsivity. At age 4, the children underwent a complete psychological evaluation by psychologists, and were then subjected to a 14-minute computer test called the CPT (Continuous Performance Test) at age 11. According to the researchers’ observations, the more symptoms a child had at 4 years of age, the more distractions they will be while undertaking the test at age 11.

The goal is prevention. "If we know that children are already beginning to show symptoms of lack of attention and/or hyperactivity at age 4, we can monitor and assist them in the process in order to minimize the subsequent difficulties they may face".

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a major health concern for children, and is the most important mental disorder in childhood. The worldwide prevalence in children and adolescents is 5%, and 65% of cases continue to have symptoms into adulthood.

Reference: Lopez-Vicente M, Sunyer J, Forns J, Torrent M, Julvez J. Continuous Performance Test II Outcomes in 11-Year-Old Children With Early ADHD Symptoms: A Longitudinal Study. Neuropsychology 2014; 28(2): 202-211.


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