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Childhood hyperactivity and mood problems at mid-life: evidence from a prospective birth cohort



Childhood hyperactivity leads to mental health problems, but it is not known whether there are long-term risks for adult mood problems in unselected population cohorts that extend to mid-life. Aims were to examine links between childhood hyperactivity and mood problems up to age 50 years and to consider confounding factors and gender differences in associations.


The National Child Development Study (NCDS) is a UK cohort of children born in 1958. Children with (N = 453) and without (N = 9192) pervasive and persistent hyperactivity were followed to age 50. Adult mood was assessed using the Malaise Inventory at ages 23, 33, 42, and 50 years and the CIS-R interview at 45 years.


Childhood hyperactivity predicted low mood at all adult assessments (ES = 0.27–0.45), including after covariate adjustment (childhood adversity, emotional and behavioural problems, and attainment).


Hyperactivity has enduring risk effects on low mood throughout the life course that extend to middle age.

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The authors express their gratitude to the National Child Development Study participants, to the UK data archive for providing access to the anonymised data, and to Olga Eyre for comments on a previous draft of the paper.

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Correspondence to Stephan Collishaw.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Stuart-Smith, J., Thapar, A., Maughan, B. et al. Childhood hyperactivity and mood problems at mid-life: evidence from a prospective birth cohort. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 52, 87–94 (2017).

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  • Hyperactivity
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Mood
  • Life course
  • Prospective