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When preschoolers have trouble staying still or paying attention, a combination of parent, teacher and clinician observations helps most in predicting the child's risk of having attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at a later age, a new study indicates.
Many previous studies on school-age children have shown that parents and teachers -- rather than clinicians alone -- are more likely to assess ADHD accurately, but there's little evidence to support similar conclusions with preschoolers, according to the researchers.
Sarah O'Neill, of City University of New York, and colleagues followed 104 hyperactive and/or inattentive 3- and 4-year-old children for two years. Their behavior was rated by their parents and teachers, as well as clinicians who conducted psychological tests on the children.
By the time children reached age 6, nearly 54 percent had been diagnosed with ADHD. A child's likelihood of such a diagnosis was higher when parents, teaches and clinicians all rated the child as having high levels of inattention or hyperactivity at age 3 or 4, according to the study in the October issue of the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.
Parents' reports were critical, particularly combined with either teacher or clinician reports, according to a journal news release. Teacher reports alone were not as useful.
The researchers said their findings show the importance of using information from multiple people who have observed a child in different settings. While input from parents appears to be crucial, their observations alone are not sufficient. Reports from teachers and clinicians are also important.
Being able to identify children at increased risk for ADHD may help parents, teachers and clinicians plan appropriate interventions, the researchers said.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.