Little evidence for late-onset ADHD in a longitudinal sample of women.

Objective: Individuals with late-onset symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are presenting to providers at increasing rates. Recent birth-cohort studies reveal evidence for late-onset ADHD, but conclusions are challenged by measurement methods as well as presence of participant impairment and psychiatric comorbidities. We examined the occurrence of late-onset ADHD in a small but thoroughly investigated group of diverse (47% white) women followed from childhood to adulthood. Method: From a larger, 16-year longitudinal study, a subsample of young women without childhood ADHD (N = 87) was assessed at four time points between childhood and adulthood via a multimethod, multiinformant approach. We used a stepped diagnostic procedure to identify those who initially met symptom criteria for ADHD after childhood and then evaluated them for remaining DSM ADHD diagnostic criteria, including impairment, cross-situational symptoms, and comorbid diagnoses. Results: Of 87 participants, 17 met ADHD symptom criteria after childhood. Fifteen showed no evidence of childhood onset, 10 showed clear evidence of impairment, and nine had cross-situational symptoms. Of these nine, all but one showed clinically significant co-occurring or preexisting psychiatric diagnoses and/or substance use that might account for ADHD symptoms. Conclusions: Although 19.5% of women from our subsample without childhood ADHD met symptom criteria for ADHD during adolescence/adulthood, only one showed the needed combination of impairment and cross-situational symptoms without significant co-occurring mental health problems. It is possible that uncomplicated cases of adult ADHD do arise, yet we find little supporting evidence herein. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)