Social adversity predicts ADHD-medication in school children – a national cohort study

Authors

  • A Hjern,

    1. Centre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden
    2. Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • GR Weitoft,

    1. Centre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and Welfare, Stockholm, Sweden
    2. Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • F Lindblad

    1. Department of Neuroscience, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Hospital of Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
    2. Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
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Anders Hjern, Centre of Epidemiology, Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, 106 30 Stockholm, Sweden.
Tel: +46-8-55 55 31 69 |
Fax: +46-8-55 55 33 27 |
Email: anders.hjern@socialstyrelsen.se

Abstract

Aims:  To test the hypothesis that psychosocial adversity in the family predicts medicated ADHD in school children.

Method:  ADHD-medication during 2006 was identified in the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register in national birth cohorts of 1.1 million 6–19 year olds. Logistic regression models adjusted for parental psychiatric disorders were used to test our hypothesis.

Results:  There was a clear gradient for ADHD medication with level of maternal education, with an adjusted odds ratio of 2.20 (2.04–2.38) for the lowest compared with the highest level. Lone parenthood and reception of social welfare also implied higher risks of ADHD-medication with adjusted ORs of 1.45 (1.38–1.52) and 2.06 (1.92–2.21) respectively. Low maternal education predicted 33% of cases with medicated ADHD and single parenthood 14%.

Conclusions:  Social adversity in the family predicts a considerable proportion of ADHD-medication in school children in Sweden.

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