Adolescents with symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to experiment with smoking and become regular tobacco users, a study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Georgetown University indicates.
The study appears in the July 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child andAdolescent Psychiatry.
Previous research has linked ADHD with smoking in the clinical setting, but this study is thefirst to investigate the association of ADHD symptoms with smoking practices in a high schoolsetting.
While research has yet to prove why ADHD is so strongly associated with smoking, theresearchers note that one possible explanation might be that nicotine helps manage ADHD symptoms.According to a study author, "stimulation derived from nicotine may help some smokers with ADHDcompensate for their difficulties sustaining attention and concentration."
Researchers interviewed 1,066 10th-grade students from five high schools. Adolescents withclinically significant symptoms of inattention were found to be over three times more likely tohave ever smoked, and almost three times more likely to be current smokers.
The researchers also found that while clinically significant symptoms of inattention were associated with smoking, symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity were not.