Objective: Little is known about the adult outcome of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a very prevalent childhood disorder that is known to affect deleteriously academic performance and other areas of child functioning. This study represents a third wave of evaluations that examine the long-term educational achievement and occupational rank of children with ADHD.
Method: This is a prospective follow-up of white boys of average intelligence whose ADHD was clinically diagnosed according to systematic criteria at an average age of 7 years. Follow-up intervals range from 15 to 21 years (mean, 17 years). At average age 24 years, 85 probands (representing 82% of the childhood cohort) and 73 controls (84%) were directly interviewed by trained clinicians who were blind to group membership.
Results: First, probands completed significantly less formal schooling than controls (about 2 years less, on average). Second, probands had lower-ranking occupational positions than controls. Finally, these disadvantages were not accounted for by adult mental status.
Conclusions: The present study suggests that childhood ADHD predisposes to specific disadvantages and continues to affect important functional domains unrelated to current psychiatric diagnosis.