Multiple neurodevelopmental conditions may lead to worse educational outcomes — ScienceDaily

A study by Open-Access Journal published October 13th in the open access journal The Open-Access Journal found that children with multiple neurodevelopmental conditions in Scotland are more likely to be excluded from school, have lower exam scores, and experience higher unemployment. PLOS MedicineMichael Fleming of University of Glasgow and colleagues

Children with neurodevelopmental conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), and depression often have difficulty at school. Multiple neurodevelopmental disorders are common, but neurodevelopmental multimorbidity has not been well-known in children. Fleming and collaborators examined the prevalence of neurodevelopmental multiplemorbidity among schoolchildren in Scotland and how it impacted their educational outcomes. Five different education and health databases in Scotland were used to identify neurodevelopmental multifolility in 766,244 four- to 19 year-old children who attended school in Scotland from 2009 to 2013. The study’s limitations include that 96.2% participants were white. Therefore, the findings may not be generalized to other ethnic groups.

Multimorbidity was defined by the presence of more than one of the following conditions: depression, attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism or intellectual disabilities. Children with more than one of these conditions were more likely to be excluded from school and have a lower exam score, higher unemployment, and had a greater likelihood of being expelled from school. Coexisting depression was the most significant driver of absenteism and coexisting ADHD the strongest driver for exclusion. Multimorbidity was less common in girls than it was for boys. However, if they did, they had a greater impact on educational outcomes. Additional analysis revealed that poor exam results were partly due to higher school absences and exclusions. This, in turn, explains the increased chance of unemployment. To minimize long-term negative outcomes, interventions should be focused on reducing exclusion and school absence, or their respective impacts on affected children. According to the authors, the practice of structuring healthcare systems around single conditions and training may be detrimental to children with neurodevelopmental multiplemorbidity. This is because it fails to recognize the increased risk of poor educational outcomes for these children and to address all their needs.

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