Study: Children at greater risk of ADHD if mother has gestational diabetes, low socioeconomic status

NEW YORK — Mothers that have low socioeconomic status and develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy are more likely to bear children that are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers led by Yoko Nomura of CUNY Queens College in Flushing, N.Y., compared 212 offspring (ages 3 and 4 years) of mothers with and without GDM in an economically diverse sample. What they found was that exposure to maternal GDM was associated with a two-fold increased risk for ADHD at 6 years of age, compared with those not exposed. The same rang true for children exposed to low SES — exposure to the factor was associated with a two-fold increased risk for ADHD at 6 years of age. Additionally, when the relationship of GDM and SES exposure was examined, the study authors also found that children were 14 times more likely to develop ADHD when exposed to both GDM and low SES.

"This study demonstrates that children of mothers with GDM raised in lower SES households are at far greater risk for developing ADHD and showing signs of suboptimal neurocognitive and behavioral development," the authors conclude. "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."


Interested in this topic? Sign up for our weekly Collaborative Care e-newsletter.