Co-development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autistic trait trajectories from childhood to early adulthood

Amy Shakeshaft, Jon E Heron, Rachel Blakey, Lucy Riglin, George Davey Smith, Evangelia Stergiakouli , Kate M Tilling, Anita Thapar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: ADHD and autism, defined as traits or disorders, commonly co-occur. Developmental trajectories of ADHD and autistic traits both show heterogeneity in onset and course, but little is known about how symptom trajectories co-develop into adulthood.
Methods: Using data from a population cohort, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we examined correlations between ADHD and autistic traits across development, using the social communication disorders checklist and ADHD subscale of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. We modelled joint developmental trajectories of parent-reported ADHD and autistic traits between 4 and 25 years, then characterised trajectory classes based on sociodemographic, perinatal, psychopathology, cognition and social functioning variables, and tested for associations with neurodevelopmental/psychiatric polygenic scores (PGS).
Results: Three classes of trajectories were identified; a typically developing majority with low-stable ADHD-autistic traits (87%), a male-predominant subgroup with child/adolescent-declining traits (6%), and a subgroup with late-emerging traits (6%). ADHD-autistic trait correlations were greatest in young adulthood for the two non-typically developing classes. There were higher rates of emotional and conduct problems, low IQ, childhood seizures and poor social functioning in the declining and late-emerging classes compared to the low-stable class. Emotional, conduct and peer problems were more prevalent during childhood in the childhood/adolescent-declining class compared to other classes, but were more prevalent in young adulthood in the late-emerging class. Neurodevelopmental/psychiatric PGS also differed: both non-typically developing classes showed elevated ADHD PGS compared to the low-stable group, and the late-emerging group additionally showed elevated schizophrenia PGS and decreased executive function PGS, whereas the declining group showed elevated broad depression PGS.
Conclusions: Distinct patterns of ADHD-autism co-development are present across development in the general population, each with different characterising factors and genetic signatures as indexed by PGS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1596-1607
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume64
Issue number11
Early online date22 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are extremely grateful to all the families who took part in this study, the midwives for their help in recruiting them, and the whole ALSPAC team, which includes interviewers, computer and laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers, managers, receptionists and nurses. The UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome (Grant ref: 217065/Z/19/Z) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors and A.T. and K.T. will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper. This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust (204895/Z/16/Z). For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. A comprehensive list of grants funding is available on the ALSPAC website (http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac/external/documents/grant-acknowledgements.pdf). E.S., R.B. and K.T. work in a unit that receives funding from the University of Bristol and the UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00011/1 and MC_UU_00011/3). GWAS data were generated by Sample Logistics and Genotyping Facilities at Wellcome Sanger Institute and LabCorp (Laboratory Corporation of America) using support from 23andMe. The authors have declared that they have no competing or potential conflicts of interest.

Funding Information:
The authors are extremely grateful to all the families who took part in this study, the midwives for their help in recruiting them, and the whole ALSPAC team, which includes interviewers, computer and laboratory technicians, clerical workers, research scientists, volunteers, managers, receptionists and nurses. The UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome (Grant ref: 217065/Z/19/Z) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors and A.T. and K.T. will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper. This research was funded in whole, or in part, by the Wellcome Trust (204895/Z/16/Z). For the purpose of Open Access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission. A comprehensive list of grants funding is available on the ALSPAC website ( http://www.bristol.ac.uk/alspac/external/documents/grant-acknowledgements.pdf ). E.S., R.B. and K.T. work in a unit that receives funding from the University of Bristol and the UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00011/1 and MC_UU_00011/3). GWAS data were generated by Sample Logistics and Genotyping Facilities at Wellcome Sanger Institute and LabCorp (Laboratory Corporation of America) using support from 23andMe. The authors have declared that they have no competing or potential conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Population Health Science Institute

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