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Ungdomsben i gräset

A collaborative project led by a researcher at University West focuses on a rarely studied topic in children and adolescents with psychiatric diagnoses: a holistic perspective on their well-being.

- Coexisting pain and somatic diseases are very little studied in children and young people with ADHD. Patients often seek help for different symptoms from different doctors in different disciplines, says Professor Nóra Kerekes at University West, who is the leader of the project Pain, Inflammation in Psychiatric Conditions (PIPCo).

She continues:

- Currently, there are no established screening forms to draw attention to psychiatric symptoms when examining patients with pain conditions in a somatic care environment. There is neither any founded knowledge about offering patients with ADHD (or other neurodevelopmental disabilities) adapted treatments for pain conditions.

Nora Kerekes

Professor Nóra Kerekes at University West.

A new clinical study

Now, therefore, a new clinical study* is being launched, which adds a holistic perspective to the treatment of young people with ADHD. Recruitment of children and adolescents who newly receive an ADHD diagnosis at Queen Silvia's Children's Hospital, Gothenburg or NU healthcare, Uddevalla is ongoing.

The theoretical basis of the project is the hypothesis that was published in fall 2021** and indicates that inflammation may be the underlying reason for increased pain in children and adolescents with ADHD.

Nóra Kerekes explains:

- Our international research collaboration within the PIPCo project led to the mapping of the neurobiological background to the often-neglected aspect of ADHD in children, i.e. increased frequency of inflammatory somatic diseases (asthma, allergies, diabetes, etc.) and increased perceived pain.

Want to contribute with preventive measures

Her project shifts attention to an important aspect of health care, such as being able to see the whole person, somatic and psychological problems together.

The goal of the new study is to investigate whether the diagnosis of ADHD can be supplemented with biological, inflammatory markers in saliva or feces in children.

If the theory that ongoing inflammation is the basis for increased pain in children and adolescents with ADHD is confirmed, treating the inflammation could prevent the development of chronic pain disorders in adulthood.

- My hope is that the project's results can contribute to the development of new treatment strategies for children and young people with ADHD, which can lead to increased quality of life for them.

The research question is grounded in an international collaboration between universities from Sweden, Spain and France. The first clinical study (pilot) has started in collaboration between University West, University of Gothenburg, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Queen Silvia's Children's Hospital in Gothenburg and NU healthcare in Uddevalla, as well as the Pediatric Department of Skaraborg Hospital in Skövde.

Nóra Kerekes, Professor in Medical Science (Psychiatry), University West,, +46 739 01 34 03

More information about the PIPCo project: Pain and Inflammation in Psychiatric Conditions – PiPCo


*Kerekes, N., Lundqvist, S., Schubert Hjalmarsson, E., Torinsson Naluai, Å., Kantzer, A. K., & Knez, R. (2022). The associations between ADHD, pain, inflammation, and quality of life in children and adolescents-a clinical study protocol. PloS one, 17(9), e0273653.

**Kerekes, N., Sanchéz-Pérez, A. M., & Landry, M. (2021). Neuroinflammation as a possible link between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and pain. Medical hypotheses, 157, 110717.