Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is increasingly recognized as a common disorder not only in children, but also in the adult population. Similarly, asthma also has a substantial prevalence among adults. Previous studies concerning a potential relationship between ADHD and asthma have not presented consistent results.
A cross-sectional study of 594 adult patients diagnosed with ADHD, compared with 719 persons from the general population. Information was collected between 1997 and 2005 using auto-questionnaires rating past and present symptoms of ADHD, co-morbid conditions, including asthma, and work status.
The prevalence of asthma was significantly higher in the ADHD patient group compared to the controls, 24.4% vs. 11.3% respectively (OR = 2.54, 95% CI 1.89-3.44), and controls with asthma scored higher on ratings of both past and present symptoms of ADHD. Female ADHD patients had a significantly higher prevalence of asthma compared to male ADHD patients (30.9% vs. 18.2%, OR = 2.01, CI 1.36-2.95), but in controls a slight female preponderance was not statistically significant. In both ADHD patients and controls, having asthma was associated with an increased prevalence of symptoms of mood- and anxiety disorders.
The present findings point to a co-morbidity of ADHD and asthma, and these patients may represent a clinical and biological subgroup of adult patients with ADHD.