Objective: To determine the incidence of reading disability (RD) among children with and without research-identified attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), separately according to gender, in a population-based birth cohort.
Method: Subjects included all children born in 1976-1982 remaining in Rochester, Minnesota, after 5 years of age (n=5718). Information from medical, school, and private tutorial records was abstracted. Cumulative incidence of RD, by any of 3 RD formulas, in children with and without ADHD and corresponding hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated separately according to gender.
Results: Cumulative incidence of RD by the age of 19 years was significantly higher in children with ADHD (51% in boys, 46.7% in girls) compared with those without ADHD (14.5% in boys, 7.7% in girls). Among children with ADHD, the risk for RD was similar in boys versus girls (HR: 1.0). However, among children without ADHD, boys were 2.0 times more likely than girls to meet RD criteria. Among girls, the HR for the risk for RD associated with ADHD (versus those without ADHD) was 8.1 (95% confidence interval: 5.7-11.5), which was significantly higher than the corresponding HR among boys (3.9 [95% confidence interval: 3.2-4.9]).
Conclusions: The risk for RD is significantly greater among children with ADHD compared with those without ADHD. Among children with ADHD, the risk for RD is the same for boys and girls. However, among children without ADHD, boys are more at risk for RD than girls. Among girls, the magnitude of increased risk for RD associated with ADHD is nearly twice that among boys, because girls without ADHD are less likely to have RD than boys without ADHD.