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Health complaints in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder


  • Kirsten Holmberg,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Woman and Child Health, Neuropaediatric UnitKarolinska Institute, Astrid Lindgren Children Hospital, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Anders Hjern

    1. Department of Women's and Children's Health, Section for Paediatrics, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
    2. Centre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden
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Kirsten Holmberg, Neuropaediatric Unit, Karolinska Institute, Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Q2:07, Karolinska University Hospital SE -171 76 Stockholm Sweden. +46 8 517 77341


Aim: To assess recurrent subjective health complaints in Swedish schoolchildren with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Methods: Cohort study of 577 fourth-graders (10-y-olds) in one municipality in Stockholm County. All children were screened for attention and behaviour problems through interviews with their parents and teachers. Children with high scores underwent further clinical and cognitive assessments. Information about health complaints was collected from the children themselves in a classroom questionnaire. The 516 children for whom there was information from all three data sources were included in the final study population. Hypotheses were tested in multivariate analyses with adjustment for sex and parental education. Results: Recurrent abdominal pain (RAP), sleeping problems and tiredness were associated with ADHD (stratified relative risks: 2.2 [1.4–3.4], 1.7 [1.1–2.7] and 2.7 [1.7–4.1], respectively), while there was no association with headache.

Conclusion: This study indicates that treatment strategies for children with ADHD need to include an effective evaluation and treatment of RAP, tiredness and sleeping disturbances. Evaluation of ADHD should be considered in children with recurrent health complaints.