Preterm Birth May Increase Risk of Developing ADHD

Preterm Birth May Increase Risk of Developing ADHD

Swedish researchers have found that babies who are born as little as three weeks early have a greater risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition, the risk of disruption increases with every baby born weeks before the due date. This research report can be found in the online edition of Pediatrics.

An estimated 3 to 5 percent of children and adults in the United States to develop ADHD. This condition is characterized by difficulty in paying attention, controlling impulsive behavior, and in some cases, hyperactivity. The disorder is treated with medication and therapy.

Although previous studies have shown that there is a link between premature birth and increased risk for ADHD, a new study further establish the amount of risk associated with pregnancy interval involved in preterm labor. Lead researcher Dr Anders Hjern, a professor of epidemiology at the Health Science Center kids' Equity at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm shows, "is our first study reported that the risk for ADHD was 40 to 60 percent higher in babies born prematurely." Away He explained , "Even the baby who was born in the early period of 37-38 weeks at risk was 20 percent higher."

For their study, researchers analyzed data from more than one million children born between 1987 and 2000. The children followed to track the possibility of developing ADHD. They found that among the group, 7506 children received prescriptions for ADHD drugs between the ages of 6 to 19 years.

The results showed that early premature birth, the greater the likelihood of children developing ADHD. The risk of developing the disorder was found to increase between 10 to 20 percent for children born at 37-38 weeks of pregnancy, and increased to 40 percent among those born at 33 and 34 weeks. For those born at 29-32 weeks of pregnancy, the risk jumps to 60, and children were delivered very preterm (23-28 weeks), the risk is doubled when compared with children born at full term.

Although other factors such as smoking and genetics of the mother may play a role in children's risk of developing ADHD, the researchers noted through comparison of siblings of children who develop the disorder. They found that extremely premature infants continues to be two times more likely to develop ADHD as their full term brother or sister.

Hjern said the results emphasize the risks associated with premature birth and that greater attention should be given to problems in neonatal care, as well as in the health care system in terms of follow-up. He noted, "The finding that early term births carry increased risk for ADHD has been [particularly] important implications for a planned Caesarean birth, which is often done during the weeks that are very." He later added, "To minimize the risk for ADHD, these births should be planned as close to a full week of the term which is dated 40-may."