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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) commonly co-occur. However, the two conditions are generally studied separately. This study, published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, sought to evaluate the typical trajectories of these disorders and how they co-develop in early childhood.

A total of 273 parents who participated in the study completed online surveys about their 2-year-olds. Over 2 years, each child’s hyperactivity/impulsivity, symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder, and inattention were examined using latent class, dual trajectory, and cross-lagged analyses.

Ultimately, it was found that most children followed low symptom trajectories. A small number displayed high, moderate, or increasing trajectories. Children in groups with high ODD were likely to be in high ADHD symptom groups. Children in high ADHD symptom groups were also likely to be in high ODD groups, however, the probabilities were lower. Overall, hyperactive/impulsive symptoms were predictors for ODD symptoms over time, more often than the reverse.

In closing, this study suggests that earlier intervention for children with symptoms of ADHD may help alleviate the risk of developing ODD [1].


[1] Brown, H. R., Laws, H. B., & Harvey, E. A. (2022). Early development of ADHD and ODD symptoms from the toddler to preschool years. Journal of Attention Disorders, 108705472110680. https://doi.org/10.1177/10870547211068042

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