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Problem child

Girls with hyperactive behaviour may get addicted to smoking and gravitate towards mentally abusive relationships.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 21, 2008 12:46 IST

Hyperactive girls are more likely to get addicted to smoking, under-perform in school and gravitate towards mentally abusive relationships as adults, according to a new study.

The study followed 881 Canadian girls from the age of six to 21 years to see how hyperactive or aggressive behaviour in childhood could affect early adulthood.

The research team found that one in 10 girls showed high levels of hyperactive behaviour. Another one in 10 showed both high levels of hyperactive and physically aggressive behaviour.

"Few studies have looked at the consequences of aggressive and hyperactive behaviour in girls," said University College of London (UCL) researcher Nathalie Fontaine.

"This study shows that hyperactivity combined with aggressive behaviour in girls as young as six years old may lead to greater problems with abusive relationships, lack of job prospects and teenage pregnancies."

Girls with hyperactive behaviour (restlessness, jumping up and down, a difficulty keeping still or fidgety), and girls exhibiting physical aggression (fighting, bullying, kicking, biting or hitting) were found to have a high risk of developing adjustment problems in adulthood.

The study also found that hyperactive or aggressive girls were more vulnerable to grow into smoking, psychologically abusive partners and show poor performance in school.

What's more, females with both hyperactivity and physical aggression reported physical and psychological aggression towards their partner, along with early pregnancy and dependency on welfare.

Not all such girls, however, grow up with serious adjustment problems, according to co-author Richard Tremblay of Université de Montréal.

"We found that about 25 percent of the girls with behavioural problems in childhood did not have adjustment problems in adulthood, although more than a quarter developed at least three adjustment problems," Tremblay said, noting additional research is needed into related social aggression such as rumour spreading and peer group exclusion.

The findings of the study, conducted jointly by Université de Montréal and UCL, have been published in the latest issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.