What Early Factors Contribute to the Risk of ADHD in Children?

Stress experienced by mothers during pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies can increase the chances of ADHD symptoms in children.
Breaking barriers: Turkish Ergotherapist redefines possibilities for children with
Breaking barriers: Turkish Ergotherapist redefines possibilities for children with / Anadolu/GettyImages

Recent research has highlighted several developmental factors that increase the risk of ADHD in children and adolescents. These include maternal stress during pregnancy, unwanted pregnancies, and the duration of breastfeeding.

ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulties in maintaining attention. While it has a genetic component, environmental factors also play a significant role in its development.

Jandeh Jallow, a Licentiate of Medicine at the University of Oulu, Finland, explored these environmental factors in her PhD research. She found that maternal stress during pregnancy and unwanted pregnancies can elevate the likelihood of ADHD symptoms in children. Additionally, shorter breastfeeding durations were linked to a higher prevalence of ADHD symptoms.

Based on a 1986 Northern Finland birth cohort, Jallow's research examined these understudied risk factors. Her findings indicate that children from unwanted pregnancies and those breastfed for less than three months show more hyperactive symptoms by age 8. Furthermore, maternal stress during pregnancy and partial breastfeeding for less than six months was linked to an increased risk of ADHD symptoms at age 16.

The study also highlighted that a child's personality profile could influence ADHD diagnosis. Adolescents with ADHD were more likely to seek novelty and were less self-directed, cooperative, and persistent compared to their peers without ADHD.

This PhD study is one of the most comprehensive to date on early risk factors for ADHD. Its findings could be crucial in developing preventive measures and improving diagnostic accuracy, particularly as the number of ADHD diagnoses has surged in recent years. By identifying these risk factors, healthcare providers can better distinguish between true cases of ADHD and instances of over- or misdiagnosis, ultimately aiding in more effective management of the disorder.

Got questions about history, trivia, facts or anything else?

Follow us on social media! Send us your questions, and we might answer them here on the site.