Exposure to maternal diabetes mellitus in the womb combined with low family socioeconomic status appear to increase the risk of childhood ADHD, according to a report in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) typically develops in the second and third trimesters and is defined as glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. The prevalence of GDM has been rising for over 20 years, particularly among ethnic minorities and individuals with low socioeconomic status, as have lifestyle changes that heighten risk including greater consumption of saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods," notes researcher Yoko Nomura.
Nomura, of Queens College, City University of New York, compared the offspring of mothers with and without GDM in an economically diverse sample. The average inattention score for offspring exposed to mother's GDM was significantly higher than for offspring unexposed, but there was no difference in hyperactivity/impulsivity scores between the two groups. Children in low socioeconomic families, compared to high socioeconomic families, had greater inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity scores.
The children exposed to both GDM and low socioeconomic status showed compromised neurobehavioral functioning, including lower IQ, poorer language abilities and diminished behavioral and emotional functioning. When examining the relationship of both GDM and low socioeconomic status exposure, the authors found a 14-fold increased risk of developing ADHD among children exposed to both.
"This study demonstrates that children of mothers with GDM raised in lower [socioeconomic status] households are at far greater risk for developing ADHD and showing signs of suboptimal neurocognitive and behavioral development," Nomura concludes.
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Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine