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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 41-45

Cortisol and its effects on cognitive function in a sample of Egyptian school-aged children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Khaled Abd El-Moez
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1110-1105.180270

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Background Several studies have suggested that cortisol level influences the development and functioning of the brain in children and that it is implicated in a variety of processes including memory and attention. Objective This study was conducted to investigate the relation between cortisol level in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their cognitive function profile. Methods The participants of the study, held in Suez Canal University Hospital in Ismailia, were recruited from among those attending the childhood and adolescent psychiatry clinic. They were divided into two groups, the ADHD group [diagnosis based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., text revision (DSM-IV-TR) through a structured clinical interview], composed of 43 children (pure ADHD children with no comorbid conditions), and the control group, composed of 31 typically developing children. All of them participated voluntarily in this study. The participants' ages ranged from 6 to 12 years; both sexes were included. Early morning awakening salivary cortisol levels were collected on two different days 2 months apart. The Stanford-Binet intelligence test 4th edition, the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Conner's test, and the child behavioral checklist were administered on all participants. Results Early morning salivary cortisol levels in both groups showed a statistically significant difference. Comparison shows that there was a statistically significant difference in the mean total score and the mean subdomain score of Stanford-Binet intelligence test 4th edition and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (total number of errors, perseverative errors) between ADHD children and the comparison group. These results were positively correlated with decrease in mean cortisol awakening response. Conclusion There are significant associations between salivary cortisol levels and cognitive and executive function impairment in children with ADHD.

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