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Hyperactivity Disorders of Childhood.
  1. MARIAN PERKINS, Consultant child and adolescent neuropsychiatrist

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    Hyperactivity Disorders of Childhood.Edited by Seija Sandberg. (Pp 517; £65 hardback.) Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-521-43250-2 .

    Hyperactivity Disorders of Childhood is the second topic considered in this new series of monographs in child and adolescent psychiatry. The aim of the series is to provide comprehensive coverage of particular topics, while aspects which have received less attention in the recent past are more thoroughly examined. A historical perspective is given as growth of interest and research evidence in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry may otherwise obscure the contribution made by previous generations. I have some sympathy with this view of hyperactivity, having been reminded of the early description of Still in 1902, and how little it has changed.

    The most illuminating chapters cover developmental considerations, sex differences, and cross cultural aspects. Olson’s chapter on the developmental perspective considers how early caregiver-infant attachment may affect self regulation, a factor that may be important in the syndrome. Research into early temperamental factors and developmental course of hyperactivity are discussed in great detail. These discussions highlight possible multiple pathways in the aetiology of hyperactivity and how they may affect outcome. The chapter by Heptinstall and Taylor on the significance of sex differences raises interesting issues. They discuss diagnostic considerations and the possible impact of referral bias affecting observed differences in prevalence between boys and girls. The chapter on cross cultural aspects by Luk is particularly fascinating. Issues relating to cross cultural comparisons of diagnostic groups, the influence upon the concept of pervasiveness, and presentation of the symptoms is not only of academic interest but important clinically.

    The topic is well covered but as in many multiauthor works, there are some irritating repetitions. It is most useful in offering unusual slants on hyperactivity.

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