Protecting the Health of Children with ADHD

Doctor examining young girl with mother present

Being healthy is important for all children and can be especially important for children with ADHD. The core symptoms of ADHD, like impulsivity and inattention, might lead children to behave in ways that can put their health at risk or cause them to forget healthy and protective behaviors. Over time, if not addressed, these risks can lead to injury, disease, or even an earlier-than-expected death.

Having a healthy lifestyle can help children with ADHD deal with stress and difficulties in their daily lives. In addition to recommended treatments like behavioral therapy and medication, a healthy lifestyle can help children with ADHD manage their ADHD symptoms. Parents and healthcare providers can learn more about health risks associated with ADHD and about healthy habits that can help protect children from long-term health risks.

Ways to Protect Children with ADHD From Different Health Risks

Preventing Unintentional Injuries
ADHD Awareness Month

October is ADHD Awareness Month. Learn moreexternal icon.

Impulsivity and inattention can put children at risk for injuries, such as:

Supporting Mental Health

Children with ADHD are at increased risk for mental, behavioral, and emotional concerns and disorders, such as:

Supporting Oral Health

Children with ADHD have increased risk of injury to the mouth and teeth, as well as cavities (also known as caries or tooth decay). Learn about protecting children’s oral health.

Promoting Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Sleep

Children with ADHD are at increased risk for being overweight or having obesity. Healthy habits for children include:

Talk With a Healthcare Provider

Every child with ADHD is different, and experts can’t predict whether or how individual children will be affected by these risks. Talk with your provider about the best way to protect your child’s health.

Additionally, some treatments for ADHD, such as stimulant medication, may have side effects that could affect your child’s health, such as difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider about these side effects.

More Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds the National Resource Center on ADHDexternal icon, a program of CHADD – Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Their website has links to information for people with ADHD and their families. The National Resource Center operates a call center (1-800-233-4050) with trained staff to answer questions about ADHD.

CDC: Information on ADHD
CDC: Children’s Mental Health
National Resource Center on ADHDexternal icon

References

  1. Sun S, Kuja-Halkola R, Faraone SV, et al. Association of psychiatric comorbidity with the risk of premature death among children and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder JAMA psychiatry (Chicago, Ill). 2019.
  2. Barkley RA. Health problems and related impairments in children and adults with ADHD. In Barkley RA. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A handbook for diagnosis and treatment (4th Ed). New York, NY: Guilford Press; 2015. pp. 267–313.
  3. Barkley RA, Fisher M. Hyperactive child syndrome and estimated life expectancy at young adult follow-up: The role of ADHD persistence and other potential predictors. Journal of Attention Disorders, 2019;23(9):907–923.
  4. Nigg JT. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and adverse health outcomes. Clinical Psychology Review, 2013;33:215–228.
  5. Danielson ML, Bitsko RH, Ghandour RM, Holbrook JR, Kogan, M., Blumberg SJ. Prevalence of parent-reported ADHD diagnosis and associated treatment among U.S. children and adolescents, 2016. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychology, 2018;47(2):199–212.
  6. Kim J, Mutyala B, Agiovlasitis S, Fernhall B. Health behaviors and obesity among US children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder by gender and medication use. Preventive Medicine, 2011;52(3-4):218–22.