MONDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that
the combination of poverty and having diabetes during pregnancy
significantly raises the risk of attention deficit-hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) in a woman's offspring.
Children born to such moms are as much as 14 times more likely
to have ADHD by the age of 6, the study found. ADHD is a behavioral
disorder characterized by difficulty focusing, impulsive behaviors
A report on the finding appears in the January issue of the
Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The new study included 212 children. Of these, 115 had "low
socioeconomic status" (lower-income) moms, moms with gestational
diabetes (arising in pregnancy), or both. Ninety-seven children had
neither. Researchers evaluated these children for the signs and
symptoms of ADHD when they were aged 3 or 4, and again at age
Moms who had either gestational diabetes or were poor were twice
as likely to have children with ADHD, but the combination of these
two risk factors was even more powerful.
Exactly how poverty and gestational diabetes affect risk for
ADHD is not fully understood, but the finding suggests there may be
an opportunity to intervene early in pregnancy to prevent ADHD.
Women of lower socioeconomic status tend to eat less healthy foods,
which can boost their risk for diabetes, noted study senior author
Dr. Jeffrey M. Halperin, a distinguished professor of psychology at
Queens College and a professorial lecturer in psychiatry at Mount
Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
His advice? "Get good obstetrical care, have your blood glucose
levels monitored regularly, eat a healthy diet that is low in
saturated fat and sugar, and this will certainly decrease your
child's risk for ADHD, as well as for other cognitive and
What's more, "if a woman had gestational diabetes during one
pregnancy, she is much more likely to have it in later pregnancies,
so perhaps one can take preemptive steps to reduce this risk," he
The new study provides "one more piece of evidence that ADHD has
multiple causes," said Dr. Jon A. Shaw, director of child and
adolescent psychiatry at the University of Miami School of
Medicine. "It is important to recognize early risk factors for ADHD
because this gives us the chance to develop strategies to prevent
Dr. Joel Nigg, a professor of psychiatry, pediatrics and
behavioral neuroscience at Oregon Health and Science University in
Portland, wrote an editorial accompanying the new finding. "Keeping
your health in check during pregnancy may be important for your
child's physical and mental health," he said. "The evidence is
mounting, and this raises the incentive to get good prenatal
Learn more about gestational diabetes at the
American Diabetes Association.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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