Ambidextrous Kids May be at Higher Risk for ADHD

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens


Being able to use both your left and right hand equally well -- or being ambidextrous -- may seem like a cool thing.

And it is.

But there might be a downside. The latest issue of the journal Pediatrics reports that researchers found ambidextrous children are more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

They also are more likely to have problems with language and schoolwork and other mental health issues than right-handed kids. Left-handed kids showed no adverse symptoms.

Ambidextrous people switch between using their right and left hands for activities such as eating or writing. Or they might use their right hand for some things and the left for others.

Researchers looked at nearly 8,000 children born between 1985 and 1986 whose parents participated in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort. The Birth Cohort covers Lapland and the Province of Oulu where a number of parents have allowed their children's development to be tracked from birth.

Data was collected by reports from parents, teachers and the children themselves.

By age 8, the Web site HealthDay reports, ambidextrous children were twice as likely as right-handed children to have difficulties with schoolwork or language.

By 16, the ambidextrous were twice as likely to have problems with language at school. Test scores indicated they were also more likely to have ADHD -- including such symptoms as fidgeting, inability to focus, weakened impulse control and poor grades.

Researchers also found ambidextrous children were more likely to have signs of mental health problems later in life.

"Mixed-handedness together with the presence of behavioral problems can be a red flag," Alina Rodriguez tells HealthDay. She works in the department of psychology at Uppsala University in Sweden and was one of the lead researchers.

"However, mixed-handedness alone does not necessarily imply that the child has problems," she adds. "Mixed-handedness is one of a host of other known risk factors."

Related: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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