*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
As if parents don’t worry enough when their teens drive the family car, new research shows that adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are even more likely than their peers to have an accident.
On a positive note, the higher risk was actually much lower than previously reported in earlier, small studies, the investigators added.
“We found that adolescents with ADHD are 35 percent less likely to get licensed six months after they become eligible for a license as compared with other adolescents. [But] after acquiring a driver’s license, adolescents with ADHD have an estimated 36 percent higher crash risk than other newly licensed teens,” said study author Allison Curry.
She is director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Curry noted that higher risk was seen among both boys and girls with ADHD, and it endured for a few years after the new license was obtained.
What’s more, in the month before driving, only roughly 12 percent of the ADHD group had been prescribed any ADHD medication. In theory, such drugs might boost safety behind the wheel, the study team noted. And that could suggest a way to lower risk among new drivers with ADHD.
Curry explained that ADHD patients could often struggle with inattention, distractibility, impulsivity and self-regulation.
To explore to what degree such concerns affect the safety of young new drivers, investigators pored over the electronic health records (indicating ADHD status) of more than 18,500 New Jersey residents born between 1987 and 1997. All had been primary care patients at CHOP.
Those records were then paired with New Jersey driver’s license data and crash incident records.
Of the nearly 2,500 teens with ADHD included in the final analysis, almost 43 percent had gotten into a car accident during the study period.
That figure was just 36 percent among the study teens without ADHD, the investigators found.
Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, said he wasn’t surprised by the findings.
“Parents of teenagers with or without ADHD need to give consideration to their child’s level of maturity and responsibility when deciding if they should allow their child to get their driver’s license,” he said.
“Although getting a driver’s license may be considered a legal entitlement from the state’s standpoint, parents must use their discretion when making this decision about when their teenager should be allowed to get their license and be permitted to drive,” Adesman advised.
Curry and her colleagues reported their findings online June 12 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.