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Behavioural Measures of Infant Activity but Not Attention Associate with Later Preschool ADHD Traits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Amy Goodwin, Alexandra Hendry, Luke Mason, Tessel Bazelmans, Jannath Begum Ali, Greg Pasco, Tony Charman, Emily JH Jones, Mark H Johnson

Original languageEnglish
Article number524
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number5
Published21 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Funding: This research was supported by awards from the Medical Research Council (MR/K021389/1; MHJ, TC) and (MR/T003057/1; EJHJ, MHJ, TC), MQ (MQ14PP_83, MHJ, EJHJ, TC). Further, this work was also supported by the EU-AIMS and AIMS-2-TRIALS programmes funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) Joint Undertaking Grant Nos. 115300 (MHJ, TC) and No. 777394 (MHJ, EJHJ and TC; European Union’s FP7 and Horizon 2020, respectively). This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, with in-kind contributions from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) companies and funding from Autism Speaks, Autistica and SFARI. AH is supported by the Scott Family Junior Research Fellowship (University College Oxford) and was previously supported by an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


King's Authors


Mapping infant neurocognitive differences that precede later ADHD-related behaviours is critical for designing early interventions. In this study, we investigated (1) group differences in a battery of measures assessing aspects of attention and activity level in infants with and without a family history of ADHD or related conditions (ASD), and (2) longitudinal associations between the infant measures and preschool ADHD traits at 3 years. Participants (N = 151) were infants with or without an elevated likelihood for ADHD (due to a family history of ADHD and/or ASD). A multi-method assessment protocol was used to assess infant attention and activity level at 10 months of age that included behavioural, cognitive, physiological and neural measures. Preschool ADHD traits were measured at 3 years of age using the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) and the Child Behaviour Questionnaire (CBQ). Across a broad range of measures, we found no significant group differences in attention or activity level at 10 months between infants with and without a family history of ADHD or ASD. However, parent and observer ratings of infant activity level at 10 months were positively associated with later preschool ADHD traits at 3 years. Observable behavioural differences in activity level (but not attention) may be apparent from infancy in children who later develop elevated preschool ADHD traits.

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