Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-cxxrm Total loading time: 0.398 Render date: 2021-12-07T21:38:46.215Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Informants’ ratings of activity level in infancy predict ADHD symptoms and diagnoses in childhood

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2018

Mirjam Meeuwsen
School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Oliver Perra
School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Stephanie H.M. van Goozen
School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Dale F. Hay*
School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Author for correspondence: Dale F. Hay, School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, UK; E-mail:


We tested the hypothesis that high activity levels in infancy would predict self-regulatory problems and later symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in a longitudinal study of British families (N = 321). Infants’ activity levels were assessed at 6 months, using 3 informants’ reports from the Infant Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ) and ActiGraphs during baseline, attention, and restraint tasks. At a mean of 33 months, the children were assessed on self-regulatory tasks; at a mean of 36 months, 3 informants reported symptoms of ADHD. At a mean of 7.0 years, the children were assessed on executive function tasks; 3 informants reported on the child's symptoms of ADHD; and diagnoses of disorder were obtained using the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment. Informants’ reports of high activity levels at 6 months predicted ADHD symptoms in early childhood and diagnoses of ADHD with clinical impairment at age 7. The IBQ activity scale was also associated with the children's later performance on self-regulation tasks in early and middle childhood. Activity level in infancy reflects normal variation and is not a sign of psychopathology; however, these findings suggest that further study of the correlates of high activity level in infancy may help identify those children most at risk for disorder.

Regular Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2000). Manual for the ASEBA preschool forms & profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Research Center for Children, Youth, & Families.Google Scholar
Auerbach, J. G., Landau, R., Berger, A., Arbelle, S., Faroy, M., & Karplus, M. (2005). Neonatal behavior of infants at familial risk for ADHD. Infant Behavior and Development, 28, 220224. Doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2004.12.002CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barkley, R. A. (1998). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a handbook for diagnosis and treatment. New York: Guilford.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Becker, K., Blomeyer, D., El Faddagh, M., Esser, G., Schmidt, M.H., Banaschewski, T., & Laucht, M. (2010). From regulatory problems in infancy to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in childhood: A moderating role for the dopamine D4 receptor gene? Journal of Pediatrics, 156, 798803. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.12.005CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Berger, I., & Felsenthal-Berger, N. (2009). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and birth order. Journal of Child Neurology, 24, 692696. doi:10.1177/0883073808330763CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Brunnekreef, A. J., de Sonneville, L. M., Althaus, M., Minderaa, R. B., Oldehinkel, A. J., Verhulst, F. C., & Ormel, J. (2007). Information processing profiles of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems: Evidence from a population-based sample of preadolescents. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48, 185193. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2006.01695.xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Campbell, D. W., & Eaton, W. O. (1999). Sex differences in the activity level of infants. Infant and Child Development, 8, 117. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1522-7219(199903)3.0.CO;2-O>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Conners, C.K. Conners' Rating Scales - Revised. Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.Google Scholar
Cortese, S., Kelly, C., Chabernaud, C., Proal, E., Di Martino, A., Milham, M. P., & Castellanos, F. X. (2012). Towards systems neuroscience of ADHD: A meta-analysis of 55 fMRI studies. American Journal of Psychiatry, 169, 10381055. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11101521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cuthbert, B. N. (2014). The RDoC framework: Facilitating transition from ICD/DSM to dimensional approaches that integrate neuroscience and psychopathology. World Psychiatry, 13, 2835. doi: 10.1002/wps.20087CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dane, A. V., Schacher, R. J., & Tannock, R. (2000). Does actigraphy differentiate ADHD subtypes in a clinical research setting? Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 39 (6), 752760. Scholar
de Sonneville, L. M. J. (1999). Amsterdam Neuropsychological Tasks: A computer-aided assessment programme. In den Briner, B. P. L. M., Beek, P. J., Brand, A. N., Maarse, S. J., & Mulder, L. J. M. (Eds.), Cognitive ergonomics, clinical assessment and computer-assisted learning: Computers in psychology Vol. 6 (pp. 113129). Lisse, Swets, & Zeitlinger.Google Scholar
de Sonneville, L. M. J. (2005). Amsterdamse Neuropsychologische Taken: Wetenschappelijke en klinische toepassingen. Tijdschrift voor Neuropsychologie, 0, 2741.Google Scholar
de Vries, S. I., Bakker, I., Hopman-Rock, M., Hirasing, R. A., & van Mechelen, W. (2006). Clinimetric review of motion sensors in children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 5, 670680. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2005.11.020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eaton, W., & Dureski, C. M. (1986). Parent and actometer measures of motor activity in the young infant. Infant Behavior and Development, 9, 383393. doi:10.1016/0163-6383(86)90012-3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Egger, H. L., Erkanli, A., Keeler, G., Potts, E., Walter, B. K., & Angold, A. (2006). Test-retest reliability of the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment (PAPA). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 45, 538549. doi:10.1097/01.chi.0000205705.71194.b8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eisenmann, J. C., Strath, S. J., Shadrick, D., Rigsby, P., Hirsch, N., & Jacobson, L. (2004). Validity of uniaxial accelerometry during activities of daily living in children. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 91, 259263. doi:10.1007/s00421-003-0983-3CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Elias, P., McKnight, A., & Kinshott, G. (1999). SOC 2000: Redefining skill revision of the Standard Occupational Classification. Skills Task Force Research Paper 19. Nottingham, England: DfEE Publications.Google Scholar
Faraone, S. V., Biederman, J., Chen, W .J., Milberger, S., Warburton, R., & Tsuang, M. T. (1995). Genetic heterogeneity in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Gender, psychiatric comorbidity and maternal ADHD. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 104, 334345. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.104.2.334CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Galéra, C., Côté, S. M., Bouvard, M. P., Pingault, J., Melchior, M., Michel, G.Tremblay, R. E. (2011). Early risk factors for hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention trajectories from 17 months to 8 years. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68, 12671275. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.13CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Goldsmith, H. H., & Rothbart, M. K. (1999). The Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery. Unpublished manuscript, University of Oregon, Eugene.Google Scholar
Gurevitz, M., Geva, R., Varon, M., & Leitner, Y. (2014). Early markers in infants and toddlers for development of ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 18, 1422. doi: 10.1177/1087054712447858CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Hughes, C., & Ensor, R. (2005). Executive function and theory of mind in 2-year-olds: A family affair? Developmental Neuropsychology, 28, 645668. DOI: 10.1207/s15326942dn2802_5CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kochanska, G., Murray, K., Jacques, T. Y., Koenig, A. L., & Vandegeest, K. A. (1996). Inhibitory control in young children and its role in emerging internalization. Child Development, 67, 490507. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01747.xCrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Masana Marin, A., Lopez Seco, F., Marti Serrano, S., Acosta Garcia, S., Gaviria Gomez, A., & Ney, I. (2014). Do firstborn children have an increased risk of ADHD? Journal of Attention Disorders, 18, 594597. doi: 10.1177/1087054712445066CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moreland, A. D., & Dumas, J. E. (2008). Categorical and dimensional approaches to the measurement of disruptive behavior in the preschool years: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 10591070. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2008.03.001CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2012). Mplus user's guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA; Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
Nigg, J. T. (2001). Is ADHD a disinhibitory disorder? Psychological Bulletin, 127, 571598. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.127.5.571CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nigg, J. T., Goldsmith, H. H., & Sachek, J. (2004). Temperament and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: The development of a multiple pathway model. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 33, 4253. doi: 10.1207/S15374424JCCP3301_5CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Nikolas, M. A., & Burt, S. A. (2010). Genetic and environmental influences on ADHD symptom dimensions of inattention and hyperactivity: A meta-analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 119, 117. doi: 10.1037/a0018010CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Olson, S. L., Bates, J. E., Sandy, J. M., & Schilling, E. M. (2002). Early developmental precursors of impulsive and inattentive behavior: From infancy to middle childhood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 435447. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00035CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Owens, J. S., Goldfine, M. E., Evangelista, N. M., Hoza, B., & Kaiser, N. M. (2007). A critical review of self-perceptions and the positive illusory bias in children with ADHD. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 10, 335351. doi: 10.1007/s10567-007-0027-3CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pate, R. R., Almeida, M. J., McIver, K. L., Pfeiffer, K. A., & Dowda, M. (2006). Validation and calibration of an accelerometer in preschool children. Obesity, 14, 20002006. doi: 10.1038/oby.2006.234CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Porrino, L. P., Rapoport, J. L., Behar, D., Sceery, W., Ismond, D., & Bunney, W. E. (1983). A naturalistic assessment of the motor activity of hyperactive boys: I. Comparison with normal controls. Archive of Genetic Psychology, 40, 681687. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.04390010091012CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Reichenbach, L., Halperin, J. M., Sharma, V., & Newcorn, J. H. (1992). Children's motor activity, reliability, and relationship to attention and behavior. Developmental Neuropsychology, 8, 8797. doi:10.1080/87565649209540517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rothbart, M. K. (1981). Measurement of temperament in infancy. Child Development, 52, 569578. doi: 10.2307/1129176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sroufe, L. A., & Rutter, M. (1984). The domain of developmental psychopathology. Child Development, 55, 1729. doi: 10.2307/1129832CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sullivan, E. L., Holton, K. F., Nousen, E. K., Barling, A. N., Sullivan, C. A., Propper, C. B., & Nigg, J. T. (2015). Early identification of ADHD risk via infant temperament and emotion regulation: A pilot study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56, 949957. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12426CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Taylor, E. (2009). Developing ADHD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 126132. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2008.01999.xCrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Teicher, M. H., Ito, Y., Glod, C. A., & Barber, N.I. (1996). Objective measurement of hyperactivity and attentional problems in ADHD. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35, 334342. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199603000-00015CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Thomas, R., Sanders, S., Doust, J., Beller, E., & Glasziou, P. (2015). Prevalence of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 135, e994e1001. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3482CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wichstrøm, L., Berg-Nielsen, T. S., Angold, A., Egger, H. L., Solheim, E., & Sveen, T. H. (2012). Prevalence of psychiatric disorders in preschoolers. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 53, 695705. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02514.xCrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wood, A. C., Asherson, P., Rijsdijk, F., & Kuntsi, J. (2009). Is overactivity a core feature in ADHD? Familial and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis of mechanically assessed activity level. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48, 10231030. doi: 10.1097/CHI.0b013e3181b54612CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Worobey, J. (2014). Physical activity in infancy: Developmental aspects, measurement, and importance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99, 729S733S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.072397CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Informants’ ratings of activity level in infancy predict ADHD symptoms and diagnoses in childhood
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Informants’ ratings of activity level in infancy predict ADHD symptoms and diagnoses in childhood
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Informants’ ratings of activity level in infancy predict ADHD symptoms and diagnoses in childhood
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *