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ADHD, Autism, Cerebral Palsy Often Overlap

Jun 22, 2012 -- 3:32 pm
June 19, 2012 — Diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy, and epilepsy may often overlap in older children, new research suggests.

A new registry study of more than 700,000 children in Norway showed that by the age of 11 years, there was a significant incidence of ADHD, ASD, and epilepsy. There was also a significant proportion of cerebral palsy cases among children older than 4 years. Further, boys had a significantly higher risk for all the disorders studied than girls.

In addition, there was "considerable overlap" found between these diagnoses, including more than 17% of the children with ASD having comorbid ADHD, more than 11% of those with ASD having comorbid epilepsy, and almost 13% of those with epilepsy having comorbid cerebral palsy.

"The findings demonstrate the significant burden of disease associated with neurologic and neurodevelopmental disorders in children, and that this burden is disproportionately skewed towards boys," Pål Surén, MD, MPH, from the Center for Pediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University College London Institute of Child Health in the United Kingdom and from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, and colleagues write.

The investigators also note that 4.3% of the 11-year-olds registered had at least 1 of the 4 diagnoses studied.

"This is lower than recent figures from the United States, but the difference is largely driven by high prevalence rates of ADHD," they write.

The study was published online June 18 in Pediatrics.
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