Drugs such as Ritalin make no difference to the long-term outcomes of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, who continue to struggle academically and mentally as they get older, early research findings suggest.

The Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has been following 178 children with ADHD and 212 children without ADHD for three years to identify what factors make a difference to the development of children with the disorder.

By the age of seven there are severe academic, social and mental health differences between children with ADHD and their peers, the Children’s Attention Project, which is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, found. Three years on, these disparities persist, preliminary findings suggest.

Four times as many 10-year-olds with ADHD suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety and oppositional disorder. They are also well behind their peers in their maths and reading abilities. There was no difference in outcomes between boys and girls.

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