Poverty And Diabetes Leads To Higher Risk Of ADHD
January 3, 2012

Poverty And Diabetes Leads To Higher Risk Of ADHD

Researchers at Queens College and Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found that low socioeconomic status (SES) and maternal gestational diabetes may cause a 14-fold increased risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in six-year-olds.

Researchers evaluated 212 children at age three or four and again at age six.  They compared 115 children who had low SES, maternal gestational diabetes, or both, to 97 children who had neither.

They found that while maternal gestational diabetes and low SES increased the risk for the child to develop ADHD, the risk increased dramatically when the two factors were taken together.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate how prenatal exposure to gestational diabetes and low socioeconomic status together contribute to the development of ADHD," lead author Yoko Nomura, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Queens College and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, said in a press release. "The results show these children are at far greater risk for developing ADHD or showing signs of impaired neurocognitive and behavioral development."

The team assessed children using a standard ADHD rating scale, a survey that was completed by their parents and teachers, and one-on-one semi-structured interviews.

The researchers also determined the history of gestational diabetes through one-on-one interviews with the mothers of the participants.  Socioeconimic status was evaluated with a widely used measuring tool called the Socioeconomic Prestige Index.

The children were evaluated again at age six by using behavioral and emotional clinical scales to measure functions like hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety and attention.

The authors of the paper published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine said that clinicians should make stronger efforts to help families take steps to prevent the non genetic factors that contribute to ADHD development.

"Physicians and health care professionals need to educate their patients who have a family history of diabetes and who come from lower income households on the risk for developing ADHD," Jeffrey M. Halperin, the study leader, said in a press release. "Even more important is the need for obstetricians, pediatricians, and internists to work together to identify these risks."


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