Asthma And ADHD – Is There a Link?

You don’t have to be a doctor to know that many children and adults suffer from Asthma and ADHD. Aside from their widespread reach, it would seem that these two chronic conditions would have little in common. But a 2018 report contends that ADHD and Asthma may, in fact, be linked to one another.

Compare and Contrast

Published online in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry in July 2018, this study based its findings on 49 previous smaller-scale reports. Thanks to this research, the authors were able to access data on over 210,000 people with a history of ADHD. Of this figure, roughly one sixth (17 percent) were also asthma sufferers. The same could only be said of 11.5 percent of the subjects without ADHD, some 3.1 million people. 

A similar type of relationship also appeared to exist among asthmatics, as the team found that ADHD was found in nearly 9 percent of those with this respiratory condition. In contrast, ADHD was present in 5.6 percent of non-asthmatics. 

Not satisfied with just this large collection of sources, the research team examined the prevalence of Asthma/ADHD in a massive selection of 1.6 million Swedish residents. The highlights of this analysis are as follows:

  • Roughly 16 percent of non-ADHD participants had also been diagnosed with asthma, whereas one in four of those diagnosed with ADHD were asthmatics.
  • ADHD was observed in 5.5 percent of asthmatic Swedes, compared to 3.3 percent of the non-asthmatic participants.
  • When both prior analyzes were taken into consideration, the team concluded that a person with either ADHD or asthma was 45 to 53 more at risk of simultaneously having the other condition 

In response his team’s findings, lead author Dr. Samuele Cortese of the University of Southampton in the UK stated that “we know for sure that patients with asthma have higher risk of ADHD and vice versa.” However, there is much less certainty as to the reasons why these two chronic conditions seem to be linked, though Cortese did offer some possible explanations. “It is possible that there are common inflammatory alterations that make the brain of some children more prone to develop both ADHD and asthma. It is also possible that sleep alterations, such as sleep disordered breathing, increase the likelihood of having both asthma and ADHD. We need to test these and other possible explanations.”

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