A new study in Korea found that children with ADHD had a 1.6 times greater risk of asthma and a 1.4 times greater risk of nasal allergies than children without ADHD.
The study of more than 4,000 first- and second-graders assessed the lifetime prevalence of asthma and allergic rhinitis in children with DSM-IV diagnosed ADHD. Results showed the lifetime prevalence rate of asthma in ADHD patients was 36.6% and allergic rhinitis was 59.0%, compared to a prevalence 24.3% (asthma) and 47.0% (allergies) in controls.
The researchers suggest that asthma and allergies may share a pathophysiological mechanism with ADHD. Asthmatic and allergic children have been shown to have poorer school performance and behavior compared to their peers, the authors say, which may be related to hypoxia, sleep disturbances, or the nature of chronic illness.
There was not a significant relationship between ADHD and other allergic conditions, including atopic dermatitis, allergic conjunctivitis, or food allergy.
This study is food for thought, but has many limitations to generalizability, most notably its very specific sample of early elementary students in a handful of cities in Korea. The study was published on April 10 online at BMC Psychiatry (Kwan HJ et al, BMC Psychiatry 2014;14:70; http://bit.ly/1lETfOK).
Medical Marijuana Legalization Does Not Increase Teen Use
Legalizing medical marijuana has no effect on teen pot use, according to a study published online April 15 in the Journal of Adolescent Health (http://bit.ly/QnPJNq).
The study analyzed data gathered between 1991 and 2011 from the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance Survey. Marijuana use was compared between youths in states where medical marijuana was legalized to geographically proximal states where it was not.
In the states that passed legislation legalizing the use of medical marijuana in the study period, there was not a statistically significant change in marijuana use among teens from the time before legalization to the time after. Marijuana use remained consistent in the states that did not legalize pot, too.
While in-state use did not change, teens in the states that legalized medical marijuana were overall slightly more likely to have smoked marijuana in the previous month (25%) compared to their peers in the states that have not legalized it (21%). The researchers theorize that this may be a reflection of overall attitudes about marijuana use in these states.
One-Fifth of Ivy League Students Have Misused Stimulants
A recent study found that 18% of Ivy League students have used stimulants to improve academic performance, according to information scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, BC, in May. When broken down by college year, about 25% of juniors reported misusing stimulants at least once for academic reasons. More than half of those who reported having ever misused a stimulant had done so four or more times.
According to the study, which surveyed 616 Ivy League college students who were not being treated for ADHD, those who both played varsity sports and belonged to fraternities or sororities were most likely to have misused stimulants. Most often students used stimulants to write an essay or study for an exam—time-consuming and concentration-intense activities that may be even more difficult for overextended students like those mentioned previously.
When surveyed about perceived prevalence, students who themselves had misused stimulants estimated much higher prevalence of misuse among college students than who had not misused a stimulant.
Overall, 41% of students viewed using a stimulant for academic performance enhancement as “cheating.” However, only 18% of previous users thought it was cheating, vs. 46% of students who had never misused a stimulant (Colineri et al, http://bit.ly/1ish9Ih).