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What is ADHD in young girls?

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

By Izabella Helbin

Reading time 3 minutes ⏰

Getting an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis from your child’s doctor may be scary, but what does this mean? How involved should you know that the cases of this disorder are steadily increasing every year? ADHD can affect any individual at any age, although more often than not, it is often diagnosed at a very young age, typically between the ages of 6 to 7. The focus points can be shown with full or partial symptoms of ADHD, including inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. The disorder may be presented differently in each child, whereas symptoms shown in females and males may be portrayed differently. However, inherited factors are not the only cause of the disorder, as early environmental risk factors such as low birthweight can be associated with ADHD (Miller et al. 2013). These play an essential role in the upbringing of female children as these affect many domains across their lifespan, such as poor academic achievement, abnormal social behaviours and an increase in neuro distinct mental health disorders. This can negatively affect female children’s upbringing as it can create difficulties in childhood and schooling, such as difficulties in controlling attention, emotions and behaviours.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual represents classifying which symptoms make up ADHD. Over the last 32 years, the criteria used to outline the disorder have changed. In the current revision, to be classified for the disorder, the individual must have six out of nine symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattention ((Singh et al., 2015). Knowing the classification system and existence of this disorder, we must now question where does the origin of the disorder arise? ADHD is known to have originated from a mix of genes and social-environmental interactions. Researchers have studied the extent of the disease between parents and children for many years. Researchers stated that 10-35% of blood-origin family members of children with ADHD are also likely to have the disorder and the risk to siblings is ~30%. If the parent has ADHD, the risk of their child will be born with the disorder is 57% (Francis, 1993). This implies a high relationship between the relatives of the children with ADHD, suggesting there is a hereditary nature to this disorder. In addition, it has been studied that children with significantly lower birth weights are at a higher risk of developing ADHD later in their childhood. All these factors have been associated with abnormal behaviours, which can be shown slightly over teen years, although they increase symptomatically over time.

Why should research mainly focus on bringing attention to young females with ADHD? Research shows that ADHD is overrepresented among boys in childhood, with a male: female ratio of 4:1. Therefore the underdiagnosis of girls with the disorder is suggested ((Singh et al., 2015). Young women with ADHD are nearly three times more likely to obtain a police record, and the imprisonment record for young females with ADHD is seven times more likely than for non-ADHD females (Silva et al. 2014). These children who experience abnormal behaviours from a younger age are more likely to reflect these decisions long-term. Studies have demonstrated that ADHD persists into adulthood in 65% of individuals, depending on behaviours and peer interactions. Therefore, recognizing behavioural differences and early risk factors can lead to better care of ADHD in children. The difference in research with the main focus on males with ADHD challenges the fact to know for sure if females with ADHD will truly have impaired decision-making compared to female control groups. Having studies and research back up evidence proving young females are often overlooked having lots of behavioural imbalance, why haven’t researchers focused on young girls as much as male individuals?


Silva, D., Colvin, L., Glauert, R., et al. Contact with the juvenile justice system in children treated with stimulant medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a population study. ADHD. (2014), S2215-0366(14)70302-5

Miller, M., Sheridan, M., Cardoos, S-L., et al. Impaired Decision-Making as a Young Adult Outcome of Girls Diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in Childhood. JINS. (2013),

Francis, G., A Prevalence Study: ADHD in Elementary School Children. CJSP. (1993),

Singh, A., Yeh, C-J., Verma, N., et al. Overview of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Young Children. PMC. (2015),

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