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05-01-2012 | Gynaecology | Article

Risk for childhood ADHD raised by gestational diabetes and low maternal SES


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MedWire News: Women who experience gestational diabetes and are of low socioeconomic status (SES) have an increased risk for having a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), suggest study findings.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate how prenatal exposure to gestational diabetes [GDM] and low socioeconomic status together contribute to the development of ADHD," said lead author Yoko Nomura (City University of New York, Flushing, USA) in a press statement. "The results show these children are at far greater risk for developing ADHD."

Nomura and colleagues followed-up 212 preschool children from birth to 6 years of age to assess whether prenatal exposure to GDM or low SES could influence risk for developing ADHD, diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fourth edition).

The mothers' SESs were measured using the previously validated Socioeconomic Prestige Index, which has a score ranging from 0 to 100 with a higher score representing higher SES. Low SES was defined as a score below 55.4 in this study.

The researchers found that children exposed to GDM (n=21) had a significant 2.2-fold increased risk for developing ADHD by the age of 6 years compared with unexposed children (n=191).

Similarly, children exposed to low SES had an approximate twofold increased risk for developing ADHD by the age of 6 years compared with children from families with higher SES.

However, when the risk for ADHD associated with GDM exposure was stratified according to the SES status of the mother, children born to low SES mothers with GDM had a significant sevenfold increased risk for developing ADHD by the age of 6 years compared with a negligible, nonsignificant risk for ADHD in children born to high SES mothers with GDM.

"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," said co-author Jeffrey Halperin, also from the City University of New York, in a press statement.

"Even more important is the need for obstetricians, pediatricians, and internists to work together to identify these risks," he added.

"Since ADHD is a disorder with high heritability, efforts to prevent exposure to environmental risks through patient education may help to reduce the nongenetic modifiable risk for ADHD and other developmental problems," conclude the authors in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Helen Albert

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