Temperamental Precursors of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

This study will utilize data from an ongoing, epidemiologically-derived, prospective longitudinal study to test whether early indices of temperament predict the emergence of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 1st grade. Data will be drawn from an ongoing developmental epidemiological study, the Family Life Project, that utilized a prospective longitudinal design. The current study is unique in utilizing a multi-informant, multi-method approach, which does not rely on parent reports for measuring temperamental reactivity and regulation across the first three years of life. Individual differences in temperamental reactivity and regulation will be used as predictors of parent and teacher-reported ADHD in 1st grade. In addition to testing for the aggregate risk of ADHD from temperament, the current study will also test Nigg and colleagues (2004) hypotheses regarding five distinct temperamentally mediated pathways into combined type ADHD. This raises the prospect that the strength of the association between specific dimensions of temperament and ADHD may vary across subgroups of children and is consonant with a larger effort in the literature aimed at clarifying the etiologic plurality of ADHD.

The current study is innovative with respect to the research design, the sample, the measurement of temperament, and the combined conceptual and empirical consideration of ADHD as a heterogeneous category. Results of this work have the potential to improve knowledge about whether individual differences in temperament, observed in the first three years of life, are predictive of the emergence of ADHD in 1st grade. The absence of this knowledge undermines early screening and intervention efforts that have the potential to reduce the incidence of ADHD in school-aged children and/or the personal and societal burden associated with this disorder. 

FPG Project Staff:
Michael T. Willoughby, Principal Investigator
Funding Agency: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Funding Period: 07/01/2012 - 06/30/2014
Award Amount: $144,226