Low Socioeconomic Status, Gestational Diabetes Linked to ADHD in Children
A recent study shows that children born to mothers who had gestational diabetes and had low socioeconomic status are at increased risk of having ADHD compared to those who had mothers with a single mentioned factor. The study is led by researchers from the Queens College, City University of New York and others.
Gestational diabetes is a term for glucose intolerance that happened only during pregnancy and it recedes right after the term ends. The mother experience high glucose levels during term, especially during the last trimester. Like diabetes, it happens when insulin production is not enough required during pregnancy. Therefore, pregnant mothers often have elevated blood glucose due to presence of corticosteroids in the bloodstream.
The study and results
For the study, researchers examined preschool children and divided them into “at risk” and “typically developing” groups according to ADHD Rating Scale -IV. Those labeled “at risk” had at least six factors while those “typically developing” only had fewer than three factors. The children were rated by teachers and parents. The mothers were also assessed for history of gestational diabetes.
Results shows that children born to mothers with gestational diabetes scored higher in inattention only and not on hyperactivity, compared to those born to mothers without the disorder. But children in low income families scored higher in inattention and hyperactivity compared to those families with higher socioeconomic status.
Overall, children with low income families and born to mothers with maternal-onset diabetes were at more risk of having ADHD. In addition, such children showed reduced neurobehavioral functioning, lower IQ and poorer language abilities and emotional functioning.
Racial minorities at risk
Gestational diabetes often develops during second and third trimesters and is more common among racial ethnicities (Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders and South Asian peoples) and among low-income families. Being overweight, having a family history of type 2 diabetes and smokers are also prone to the condition. Like obesity, rates of gestational diabetes have risen significantly through the years.
As ADHD had high heritability, researchers recommend that efforts to reduce exposure to diabetes risks (obesity and smoking) should be undertaken by mothers especially during pregnancy.
The study is available in the online edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.