New Perspective on Why Children with ADHD Have High Rates of Accidental Injuries

Poor motor control may not play as big a role in accidental injuries as researchers once thought.
ADHD News Feed | posted by Devon Frye

Published March 16, 2016

A new study indicates that the high rate of accidental injuries in children with combined-type ADHD may be more than just a motor problem. It may be related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or anxiety.

The study, published March 14 in the Journal of Attention Disorders, looked at 32 male children with ADHD, combined type (ADHD-CT), as well as 23 typically developing male children, all between the ages of seven and 12. The children’s parents completed questionnaires assessing how many accidental injuries — bruises, cuts, and the like — the child had sustained over the previous 12 months, as well as the severity of ADHD, ASD, and anxiety symptoms (if any) that the child displayed. Researchers also completed the Movement Assessment Battery for Children, 2nd Edition (MABC-2) for each child, to look for the presence of motor function impairment.

The results indicated that children with ADHD suffered more accidents than typically developing children — confirming what previous research (and any parent of a child with ADHD) already knew. But the data showed no correlation between a child’s MABC-2 scores and his rate of accidental injuries, indicating that poor motor control may not be the primary cause of accidents in children with ADHD.

There were significant associations between the rate of accidents and an increased rate of anxiety, ASD, or hyperactive symptoms — implying that comorbid anxiety or ASD in children with hyperactive ADHD symptoms may be partially to blame for the high rate of accidental injuries these children experience.

The study was highly preliminary, and the researchers acknowledge that it requires validation before any definitive conclusions can be made. The relatively small sample size — as well as the fact that female subjects were not included — may have skewed the results, as may have the parent-reported data. However, the researchers suggest that the results warrant further investigation into the role of ASD and anxiety in the high rate of injury in the ADHD community.


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