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Sex differences in ADHD: Conference summary

Abstract

Clinical samples of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been dominated by males. Consequently, female manifestations and sex differences have been relatively neglected in the extensive ADHD research. Because ADHD is so common (3% to 5% of school children) and chronic (lifelong in many cases), even a small proportion of females multiplied by such a large base means hundreds of thousands of girls and women with ADHD, a significant public health problem. An NIMH conference concluded that research is needed not only on sex differences related to ADHD, but also on manifestations of ADHD in females as such. Areas of focus should include differences in life course (sex-differential age effects); effects of hormones; effects of ADHD parenting (in utero and postnatal) on the next generation; response to and implications for design of psychosocial treatment; effects of differential comorbidity; normative “background” sex differences that influence the manifestation of ADHD; differences in development of verbal fluency and social behavior; possible interactions of sex and ethnicity; a prospective study of both sex offspring of ADHD adults; and such methodological issues as appropriate instruments and diagnostic thresholds, power to prevent false negatives, valid impairment measures, validity and reliability of child self-reports, and more inclusive samples (all three subtypes: inattentive, hyperactive-impulsive, and combined).

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Additional information

The following participants in the November 16–17, 1994, NIMH Conference on Sex Differences in ADHD may be considered ghost co-authors of the contents in this summary. Special thanks are due to Euthymia Hibbs, Ph.D., co-organizer of the conference; Peter Jensen, M.D., who suggested the successful format; Delores Parron, Ph.D., who gave much helpful advice on the conference arrangements; Emily Areia, Ph.D., who thoroughly critiqued the summary; Joan Cole, who helped abstract the recorded proceedings; and Jose Bauermeister, Ph. D., F. Xavier Castellanos, M.D., Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D., and Mark Stein, Ph.D., who helped with referencing. Other participants, in alphabetical order, included Russell Barkley, Ph.D.; Joseph Biederman, M.D.; Caryn Carlson, Ph.D.; C. Keith Conners, Ph.D.; Monique Ernst, M.D.; Miranda Gaub; Jay N. Giedd, M.D.; Michael Gordon, Ph.D.; Jeffrey Halperin, Ph. D.; Betsy Hoza, Ph.D.; Hans Huessy, M.D.; Jean King, Ph.D.; Kathleen Kiely; Rachel Klein, Ph.D.; Benjamin Lahey, Ph.D.; Jan Loney, Ph.D.; Elizabeth Lorch, Ph.D.; Spero Manson, Ph.D.; Keith McBurnett, Ph.D.; Richard Milich, Ph.D.; Douglas Novins, M.D.; Daisy Pascualvaca, Ph.D.; Linda Pfiffner, Ph.D.; Jane Steinberg, Ph.D.; James Swanson, Ph.D.; Marcus Thomeer, Ph.D.; Lillie Williams, M.D.; Alan Zametkin, M.D.

The opinions expressed herein are the views of the author and conference participants and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the National Institute of Mental Health or any other part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Arnold, L.E. Sex differences in ADHD: Conference summary. J Abnorm Child Psychol 24, 555–569 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01670100

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Keywords

  • Public Health
  • Health Problem
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Small Proportion
  • Clinical Sample