ADHD Tied to Asthma and Allergies in Children

Kids with history of allergies and asthma are more like to develop ADHD, says the results of a new study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Earlier studies on a possible link between allergies, asthma, and ADHD have produced conflicting results. To test that link, researchers from the Netherlands and Boston performed a case-control study of boys registered with the UK General Practice Research Database. Their analysis included 884 boys with a diagnosis of ADHD and 3,536 boys without the disorder.

In boys diagnosed with ADHD, 34% also had asthma and 35% had some type of allergy. The risk of ADHD increased if boys had a history of asthma, antihistamine drug prescriptions, and impetigo (a contagious skin infection). Other less significant risk factors included an intolerance to cow's milk and any prescription of drug categories antiasthmatics, respiratory corticosteroids, topical steroids, antibacterials, or antifungals.

"Despite possible limitations inherent to observational studies, this study lends support to the emerging evidence that childhood ADHD is associated with atopic diseases and impetigo," the researchers wrote.

Both allergies and asthma commonly run in families, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immnology. An earlier study from the Medical Research Council Centre at Cardiff University in Wales also pointed to a genetic role in the development of ADHD.

The editor-in-chief of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Gailen Marchall, said the findings should not dissuade patients with asthma and allergies from taking medications that are considered safe and even life saving. He pointed out that additional research is needed to understand the link between asthma, allergies, and ADHD.

Some research suggests that there are non-drug options for assisting in the management asthma and ADHD. A recent literature review found that patients with asthma may benefit from chiropractic care and manual therapies in some cases. Another new study showed an 81% success rate in a multimodal, drug-free program for managing ADHD.


Hak E, et al. Association of childhood attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with atopic diseases and skin infections? A matched case-control study using the General Practice Research Database. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2013; 111 (2): 102-106.e2, DOI: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.05.023.


Whiteman, H. (2013, August 16). "ADHD more likely in children with asthma or allergies." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264854.php.