There is increasing recognition of the importance of adult ADHD. Adult ADHD can be very impairing by itself and, in addition, it worsens the prognosis of various disorders with which it can be comorbid.
Adult ADHD is conceptualized as a continuation of childhood ADHD. The requirement of a childhood onset has always been a key criterion for the diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. However, in many patients a history of ADHD in early childhood is absent. In recognition of this problem, in DSM-5 the age by which symptoms must be identified was raised to 12 years.
However, clinicians routinely see adults with symptoms of ADHD but without a clear history of ADHD even by the age of 12 years. Therefore, a question of great clinical importance is—can ADHD have new onset in adulthood? Also a very important question—if ADHD can start in adulthood, is late-onset ADHD a different condition? Three recent studies from 3 different countries, have looked at these questions, have reported surprising findings, and have received a lot of press.
This first study is unique in that it has the longest follow-up ever, from childhood to age 38 years. It assessed both childhood ADHD and adult ADHD in the same cohort of participants.