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Is there a connection between maternal obesity, diabetes and an increased risk of having a child with ADHD?

Astonishing report finds that obesity in pregnancy can cause ADHD in the womb

A study published online before print, “The Role of Excessive Weight Gain During Pregnancy in the Development of ADHD in Offspring of Women with Gestational Diabetes,” raised new concerns about the risks of obesity.

Women with excessive weight gain during pregnancy are the only ones who have this association studied.

Having gestational diabetes and being overweight may double a child’s risk of developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), new research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reveals.

According to data from 2016 to 2019, 6 million children aged 3 to 17 years old were diagnosed with ADHD. Children are at a higher risk of developing ADHD as a result of maternal obesity. Due to the large number of women with gestational diabetes (47%), maternal obesity is a significant risk factor for children developing ADHD. About 30% of women have obesity at their first doctor’s visit during pregnancy, and this number rises to 47% with gestational diabetes. Excessive weight gain during pregnancy in this population is a risk factor for children developing ADHD.

Children born to women with obesity and gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing long-term mental health problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to Verónica Perea, MD, PhD, of the Hospital Universitari Mutua Terrassa in Barcelona, Spain. There was no association between these conditions and a healthy weight gain during pregnancy, however.

Researchers looked at 1,036 children whose mothers had gestational diabetes. They found that 13% of these children had ADHD. They discovered that children of women with gestational diabetes and obesity were twice as likely to have ADHD than those whose mothers did not have obesity.

Only women with gestational diabetes, obesity, and excessive weight gain during pregnancy were included in the study. The amount of weight these women gained during pregnancy was within the normal range, the researchers did not observe a higher risk of ADHD in their children.

It is crucial for clinicians to educate their patients on the importance of healthy weight gain during pregnancy,” Perea says.

This research was conducted by Andreu Simó-Servat, Carmen Quirós, Nuria Alonso-Carril, Maite Valverde, Maria-José Barahona, Xavier Urquizu, Eva López, and Maria-José Barahona of the Universitari Mútua de Terrassa Hospital in Barcelona, Spain, as well as Antonio J. Amor of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona.

The research was funded by the Mutua Docencia i Recerca Fundació Terrassa.

In the article “Role of Excessive Weight Gain During Gestation in the Risk of ADHD in Offspring of Women with Gestational Diabetes,” the authors report on a retrospective study of pregnant women with gestational diabetes who underwent routine prenatal care to assess the association between maternal weight gain during pregnancy and offspring ADHD.

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