Somatosensory functioning and experienced pain in ADHD-families: a pilot study

E.J.A. Scherder, N.N.J. Rommelse, T. Broring, S.V. Faraone, J.A. Sergeant

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Abstract

Background: An issue somewhat overlooked in children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is somatosensory functioning. Some studies show a deficit in the processing of tactile and kinesthetic stimuli, but more research is needed to confirm these findings. A related topic, namely the subjective experience of pain, has not been investigated. Also unknown is the somatosensory functioning and experienced pain of non-affected siblings of children with ADHD, which may shed light on the familiality of possible alterations in somatosensory functioning and experienced pain. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate these aspects in children with ADHD and their non-affected siblings, and to investigate how these aspects were related to each other. Method: Somatosensory functioning (tactile perception and kinesthesia) and subjective intensity and emotionality of pain experiences were examined in 50 children with ADHD, their 38 non-affected siblings and 35 normal controls. Results: Both children with ADHD and their non-affected siblings showed deficits in tactile perception, though kinesthesia appeared unimpaired. Non-affected siblings reported a significant lower intensity and emotionality of past experienced pain than controls. The 'objective' tests of somatosensory functioning did not relate to the subjective sensation of pain. Conclusions: Alterations in tactile perception may relate to a familial susceptibility for ADHD. Clinicians should be aware of possible under reportage of experienced pain in siblings of children with ADHD. The intensity and emotionality of pain appears difficult to objectify with somatosensory test. © 2008 European Paediatric Neurology Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-469
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Paediatric Neurology
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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