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      Impact of gender and age on executive functioning: do girls and boys with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder differ neuropsychologically in preteen and teenage years?

      Developmental Neuropsychology

      Sex Characteristics, Adolescent, Retrospective Studies, physiology, Problem Solving, statistics & numerical data, Neuropsychological Tests, Mental Status Schedule, epidemiology, Mental Disorders, Male, Learning Disorders, Intelligence, Humans, Female, Demography, Comorbidity, Child, Case-Control Studies, Auditory Perception, physiopathology, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Aging, Age Factors

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          ADHD is known to have neuropsychological correlates, characterized mainly by executive function (EF) deficits. However, most available data are based on studies of boys through age 12. Our goal was to assess whether girls with ADHD express neuropsychological features similar to those found in boys, and whether these impairments are found in both preteen and teen samples. Participants were 101 girls and 103 boys with DSM-III-R ADHD, and 109 comparison girls and 70 boys without ADHD, ages 9 to 17 years. Information on neuropsychological performance was obtained in a standardized manner blind to clinical status. Primary regression analyses controlled for age, socioeconomic status, learning disability, and psychiatric comorbidity. Girls and boys with ADHD were significantly more impaired on some measures of EFs than healthy comparisons but did not differ significantly from each other. With the exception of 1 test score there were no significant Sex x Diagnosis interactions. Moreover, there were no more significant interactions among age, gender, and diagnosis than would be expected by chance. Neuropsychological measures of EFs were comparably impaired in girls compared to boys with ADHD, and these impairments are found at ages 9 to 12 and ages 13 to 17. These findings suggest that executive dysfunctions are correlates of ADHD regardless of gender and age, at least through the late teen years.

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