The British Journal of Psychiatry
Childhood attention problems and socioeconomic status in adulthood: 18 year follow-up
Cédric Galéra, Manuel-Pierre Bouvard, Emmanuel Lagarde, Grégory Michel, Evelyne Touchette, Eric Fombonne, Maria Melchior
  • Declaration of interest

    M.-P.B. received financial support for the organisation of scientific meetings and was also the main investigator in clinical trials for Shire and Lilly. In the UK, E.F. provided advice on the epidemiology and clinical aspects of autism to scientists advising parents, to vaccine manufacturers, and to several government committees between 1998 and 2001. Since 2004 E.F. has been an expert advisor to vaccine manufacturers and the US Department of Health and Social Services with regard to the autism thiomersal (thimerosal) litigation.

Abstract

Background

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with socioeconomic difficulties later in life. Little research in this area has been based on longitudinal and community studies.

Aims

To examine the relationship between childhood attention problems and socioeconomic status 18 years later.

Method

Using a French community sample of 1103 youths followed from 1991 to 2009, we tested associations between childhood attention problems and socioeconomic status between ages 22 and 35 years, adjusting for potential childhood and family confounders.

Results

Individuals with high levels of childhood attention problems were three times more likely to experience subsequent socioeconomic disadvantage than those with low levels of attention problems (odds ratio 3.44, 95% CI 1.72–6.92). This association remained statistically significant even after adjusting for childhood externalising problems, low family income, parental divorce and parental alcohol problems.

Conclusions

This longitudinal community-based study shows an association between childhood attention problems and socioeconomic disadvantage in adulthood. Taking into account ADHD and associated difficulties could help reduce the long-term socioeconomic burden of the disorder.