Objective: The substantial discrepancy in the male-to-female ratio between clinic-referred (10 to 1) and community (3 to 1) samples of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) suggests that gender differences may be operant in the phenotypic expression of ADHD. In this study the authors systematically examined the impact of gender on the clinical features of ADHD in a group of children referred to a clinic.
Method: The study included 140 boys and 140 girls with ADHD and 120 boys and 122 girls without ADHD as comparison subjects. All subjects were systematically assessed with structured diagnostic interviews and neuropsychological batteries for subtypes of ADHD as well as emotional, school, intellectual, interpersonal, and family functioning.
Results: Girls with ADHD were more likely than boys to have the predominantly inattentive type of ADHD, less likely to have a learning disability, and less likely to manifest problems in school or in their spare time. In addition, girls with ADHD were at less risk for comorbid major depression, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder than boys with ADHD. A statistically significant gender-by-ADHD interaction was identified for comorbid substance use disorders as well.
Conclusions: The lower likelihood for girls to manifest psychiatric, cognitive, and functional impairment than boys could result in gender-based referral bias unfavorable to girls with ADHD.