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Crossing streets, kids with ADHD may misjudge risk

Children with ADHD are more likely than their peers to cross the street when cars are dangerously close

Reuters, Wednesday 10 Aug 2011
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Views: 2040

Children with ADHD are more likely than their peers to cross the street when cars are dangerously close. The findings, researchers say, may help explain why children with the disorder have a higher-than-average risk of being hit by a car.

Past studies have found that children with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) have raised rates of various injuries, including roadway accidents, but the reasons have not been clear.

Since children with the disorder have difficulty staying focused and controlling their behavior, the researchers on the new study thought these kids might tend to act impulsively "curbside" -- not taking the time to look left and right before darting into the street.

But that was not the case, they found. In a virtual-reality test that simulated street-crossing, children with ADHD did typically check traffic like they should.

"They were actually like other kids in looking right and left before crossing," said lead researcher Despina Stavrinos, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Instead, things went awry somewhere in the children's decision process about whether it was safe to cross.

Compared with their peers, Stavrinos told Reuters Health, "children with ADHD chose to cross when there were smaller gaps between cars, which is risky."

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