Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appears to affect movement in boys more than it does in girls, according to a study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. ADHD is one of the most common mental disorders found in children. Symptoms include impulsiveness, hyperactivity, such as not being able to sit still, and inattention or constant daydreaming. Few studies have been done that compare ADHD and movement in both boys and girls.
Researchers tested the movement abilities of 132 boys and girls with ADHD and 136 without the disorder. The children were between the ages of seven and 15 years and were tested for how fast and how well they could tap their toes, walk on their heels, maintain balance and keep a steady rhythm during a task compared to scores typical for their age.
The study found that girls with ADHD and the control group of children without ADHD were twice as likely to be able to control their movements for their age compared to boys with ADHD, who showed continued difficulties.
"Our findings suggest that the differences between boys and girls with ADHD show up not only in behavior and symptoms but also in development of movement control, likely because girls' brains mature earlier than boys' brains," said study author E. Mark Mahone, PhD, with the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD.
"More studies related to ADHD and movement are needed that look at boys and girls separately and at younger ages," said Mahone.
The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Kennedy Krieger Institute's Developmental Disabilities Research Center and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.