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The more premature or late a baby is born, the higher the chances of having ADHD

Whether a baby is born underweight of overweight, it can play a role in the child having ADHD.

The timing of when a baby is born could have a correlation with his or her chance of dealing with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the future, according to a study published online Aug. 24 in the journal Pediatrics.

“Although ADHD is more common in babies who are either underweight or overweight, the risks are greatest for those babies with the most severe degree of poor growth in the womb,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, according to

“The reality is that the additional risk for ADHD is relatively low for babies born close to their due date but is significantly greater for babies born seven weeks or more prematurely,” Adesman said, who was not involved with the Finnish study.

The study implies that babies who are over or under nourished are more susceptible to ADHD, but it doesn’t necessarily provide a clear causal relationship.

The researchers, led by Dr. Minna Sucksdorff of the University of Turku, compared more than 10,000 children with ADHD against more than 38,000 children without ADHD but similar in terms of gender, birth date and place of birth. They used birth medical records to see how far along in the pregnancy the mother was when the child was born. They also examined whether or not the children were underweight or overweight for what is expected at that gestational age.

What they found was that the risk of ADHD increased for each week earlier that a child was born within the average 40-month period.

Birth weight was a big factor in these findings.

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“Poor fetal growth is a result of many factors, ranging from genetic to environmental,” Dr. Glen Elliott, chief psychiatrist and medical director of Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto, Calif. said. “It is not so surprising that a fetus that is growing less vigorously than usual might have effects on brain development. More surprising is the suggestion that growing too vigorously also is associated with an increased risk of later being diagnosed with ADHD.”

For pregnant women who are having complications that end up requiring an early cesarean birth, these results shouldn’t really play in role in deciding when it’s time to have the baby, according to Elliot. But for those who can hold out, it looks like waiting until a full term is ideal when it comes to ADHD in children.

Photo: Flickr user Joshua Smith