ADHD children have smaller brains?

Brain regions smaller in ADHD kids; study could lead to better intervention

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A brain region that controls thought and movement is smaller in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than in other children, a study has found. This result could mean better intervention strategies for ADHD.

Researchers from the Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute looked at the MRI brain images of 26 preschoolers with and without symptoms of ADHD, a disorder that includes symptoms of inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. They analyzed the images and found that certain regions of the brain were significantly smaller in the children diagnosed with ADHD. The scientists said it's the first study of its kind.

"Your child could benefit from a study showing brain differences in kids with ADHD."

This difference in brain size plays a key role in early-onset ADHD, researchers said. Dr. Mark Mahone, lead author and Director of Neuropsychology at the institute, said that using these scans to identify children with ADHD at preschool age can minimize long-term impacts of the disorder, such as problems in school.

According to the National Institutes of Health, difficult children are often incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD, while children who do have the disorder frequently remain undiagnosed.

Because of the challenges diagnosing ADHD, related learning disabilities or mood disorders such as depression are sometimes overlooked.

The scientists will continue to look at the brain development of these children over time to spot other differences. Continued study of the differences in brain size between ADHD children and children without the condition is necessary, researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Clinical Neuropsychologist.

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Review Date: 
June 17, 2011
Last Updated:
October 3, 2012