New Research Confirms Physicians Suspicions
Many physicians have held the belief that there is a link between premature birth and ADHD and recent research now seems to confirm this theory. A team of researchers conducted a study in Sweden that showed a higher rate of ADHD in children born prematurely. Conclusions from the study suggest that children born prior to 36 weeks gestation have an increased risk of developing ADHD later in life.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that typically affects children, but may persist until adulthood. Children often show signs of both inattention and hyperactive or impulsive behavior. They may exhibit certain symptoms, including excessive talking, inability to follow instructions, fidgeting, difficulty taking turns, forgetfulness and excessive restlessness. Signs of ADHD may be noticed as young as age two or three, but often become apparent when a child reaches school-age. Older children may have difficulty completing tasks or following directions at school.
ADHD is often treated with a combination of therapy, social skills training and medications. Both stimulant and non-stimulant medications may be used during treatment. The best approach to treatment is when parents, school personnel and counselors work together as a team. While some children will outgrow symptoms of ADHD, others will continue to exhibit signs of ADHD into adulthood.
What does current research show?
While the theory is not new, a study published online April 18, 2011 in Pediatrics helped prove that there is a correlation between premature birth and ADHD that is not affected by environmental or genetic factors. Prior to concluding the study, researchers took into account specific situations such as maternal age, smoking status, psychiatric disorders in the parents and marital status of the parents. The researchers also studied how siblings were affected by ADHD, by comparing data from children born prematurely versus siblings carried to term.
Information was compiled from a list of school-age children who were born between the years of 1987 and 2000. Researchers took note of how many children born during this time were prescribed stimulant medications in the year 2006. Information was collected from records in the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. Overall, 7,605 children had been prescribed at least one stimulant medication.
Conclusions from the study showed that babies born between 23 and 28 weeks of gestation had double the risk of developing ADHD later in life. Children born between 35 and 36 weeks of gestation had an increased risk of developing ADHD by 30 percent, when compared with children who were carried to term.