PDD symptoms in ADHD, an independent familial trait?

J.S. Nijmeijer, P.J. Hoekstra, R.B. Minderaa, J.K. Buitelaar, M.E. Altink, C.J. Buschgens, E.A. Fliers, N.N. Rommelse, J.A. Sergeant, C.A. Hartman

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The aims of this study were to investigate whether subtle PDD symptoms in the context of ADHD are transmitted in families independent of ADHD, and whether PDD symptom familiality is influenced by gender and age. The sample consisted of 256 sibling pairs with at least one child with ADHD and 147 healthy controls, aged 5-19 years. Children who fulfilled criteria for autistic disorder were excluded. The Children's Social Behavior Questionnaire (CSBQ) was used to assess PDD symptoms. Probands, siblings, and controls were compared using analyses of variance. Sibling correlations were calculated for CSBQ scores after controlling for IQ, ADHD, and comorbid anxiety. In addition, we calculated cross-sibling cross-trait correlations. Both children with ADHD and their siblings had higher PDD levels than healthy controls. The sibling correlation was 0.28 for the CSBQ total scale, with the CSBQ stereotyped behavior subscale showing the strongest sibling correlation (r∈=∈0.35). Sibling correlations remained similar in strength after controlling for IQ and ADHD, and were not confounded by comorbid anxiety. Sibling correlations were higher in female than in male probands. The social subscale showed stronger sibling correlations in elder than in younger sibling pairs. Cross-sibling cross-trait correlations for PDD and ADHD were weak and not-significant. The results confirm that children with ADHD have high levels of PDD symptoms, and further suggest that the familiality of subtle PDD symptoms in the context of ADHD is largely independent from ADHD familiality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443-453
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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