January 24, 2011 - A recently published research paper by the European Journal of Neurology indicates that the presence of adult ADHD symptoms poses a 3-fold risk of developing dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), but the LBDA Scientific Advisory Council has expressed concern that the conclusions drawn are premature. A possible association between ADHD and LBD has not been studied previously, and as the authors state, more research is needed to investigate this matter further. Until other investigators report similar findings, readers are advised by LBDA to not make any assumptions about ADHD being a risk factor for later development of Lewy body dementias.
Led by Angel Golimstok, researchers from Hospital Italiano Buenos Aires evaluated 360 patients with dementia, including 251 with Alzheimer’s disease and 109 with LBD and compared them with 149 healthy adults matched by age, sex and education. They evaluated how often ADHD symptoms were reported earlier by the patient, or in the cases of all patients with dementia, by an informant who had known the patient for at least 10 years and had information from a close relative who knew the patient in childhood. 47.8% of those diagnosed with DLB were reported to have experienced ADHD symptoms, compared with only 15.2% of those with Alzheimer’s and 15.1% of healthy adults.
WebMD reported on the study on their website on January 20, 2011, shortly after the results were published, and sought expert reviews from U.S.-based experts, which include two members of LBDA’s Scientific Advisory Council. Dr. James B. Leverenz, MD, chair of LBDA’s Scientific Advisory Council and professor of neurology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle stated, “"It may be that both of these disorders are linked to some other risk factor that is common for both." Leverenz continued, “…(the study) doesn’t prove cause and effect between ADHD and dementia...”
WebMD also sought expert review from Douglas Galasko, MD, another member of LBDA’s Scientific Advisory Board and professor of neurosciences at the University of California San Diego. “The authors tried to obtain ratings of ADHD during childhood from knowledgeable informants of the patients and controls, and much hinges on the accuracy of these reports, and on their interpretation." Dr. Galasko indicated that the next step is replication of the findings by other researchers.