Kids with ADHD more likely to be in bike crashes: study

Iowa City, IA – Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder exhibit “impulsivity” and attention issues that put them at risk when crossing streets on their bikes, according to a study from the University of Iowa.

For the study, 63 children ages 10 to 14 – including 27 with ADHD and not on medication – rode stationary bikes next to large screens that displayed images of a Midwest town as they “crossed” 12 intersections with traffic.

When examining how the children entered the road, researchers found that the timing of the children with ADHD was less precise than those without ADHD, giving them less time to spare, according to a university press release. Both groups of children chose roughly the same size gaps between cars for crossing.

The children also were shown heavy traffic with shorter distances between cars. The children with ADHD had difficulty changing their behavior when traffic became light again, and still chose small gaps more than the other children, placing themselves at risk. Children with ADHD also had more “close calls” when they had less than one second to navigate the street.

Researchers discovered that the children’s timing issues were related to inattention and their decisions about gaps to cross were related to hyperactivity and impulsivity – all ADHD symptoms, according to the release.

Researchers recommended that parents expose their children to “different scenarios” as they ride their bike.

“Crossing roads on a bicycle requires decision and action,” Molly Nikolas, assistant professor in the university’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and corresponding study author, said in the release. “What we found is children with ADHD have deficits in both areas.”

The study was published online Nov. 27 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Nearly 6 million U.S. children ages 3 to 17 have ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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