(HealthDay News) – About one in five children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show signs of autism, according to a study published online Aug. 26 in Pediatrics.

Amelia Kotte, PhD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assessed autistic traits among 227 children and adolescents (6–18 years old) without ADHD and 242 with ADHD. In particular, measures of psychiatric, psychosocial, educational, and cognitive functioning were evaluated.

The researchers found that autistic traits were significantly more common in those with ADHD (18% vs. 0.87%). The presence of autistic traits was associated with more severe psychopathology and more impaired interpersonal, school, family, and cognitive functioning.

“A substantial minority of ADHD children manifests autistic traits and those exhibiting autistic traits have greater severity of illness and dysfunction,” Kotte and colleagues conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies.

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