Outside Risk Factors for ADHD

Gestational diabetes and low income increase chances ADHD in children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes kids who suffer from it to have difficulty focusing and controlling their impulses, which makes it difficult to do well in school and sometimes to get along socially.

In the first study of its kind, researchers have shown a link between low socioeconomic status and gestational diabetes, with an increased risk of having a child with ADHD.

"Watch for signs of ADHD in your children."

Jeffrey M. Halperin, PhD, and Yoko Nomura, PhD, both affiliated with Queens College and the Sinai School of Medicine, led a research team that evaluated 212 children and the age of three or four, and again at age six.

115 of the children had a low socioeconomic status (SES) or mothers who had gestational diabetes while pregnant with them, or both. Ninety-seven of the children had neither of those characteristics.

The two groups were evaluated and compared the over the years. At preschool age, researchers assessed the children using a standard ADHD rating scale, one-on-one semi-structured interviews, and surveys of their parents and teachers.

They also performed tests on IQ, temperament and neuropsychological functioning.

At age six, the kids were evaluated again with neuropsychological tests, behavioral and emotional clinical scales, and other tests which measured hyperactivity, anxiety, attention and aggression.

The history of gestational diabetes was determined through interviews with the mothers, and socioeconomic status was evaluated using the Socioeconomic Prestige Index. 

Researchers found that SES and gestational diabetes combined may cause a 14-fold increased risk of the child having ADHD by six years old. Independently, either of those factors alone doubled the risk for ADHD.

"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," said Dr. Nomura.

He added that the results showed that children with these factors showed a much greater risk of developing ADHD or other neurocognitive and behavioral impairments.

Findings were published in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 3, 2012
Last Updated:
October 3, 2012