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Study Gives New Insight Into the Cause of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

by Dr. Nithin Jayan on  March 28, 2011 at 3:30 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
New study adds more vitality to stringent antenatal care. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) may increase risk for symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in young children.
Study Gives New Insight Into the Cause of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

IUGR refers to the poor growth of a baby while in the mother's womb during pregnancy. The damage caused by IUGR with respect to ADHD was compared to prematurity, i.e. being born too early.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders. It may continue through the adolescence and into adulthood. Affected children suffer difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behavior, and hyperactivity (over-activity).

Although most studies point to genes as the cause for ADHD, the scientific community is yet to figure out the exact cause. The hypothesis is that a number of factors may be involved in causing ADHD.

One of the studies on ADHD was performed in Finland to learn whether it is more detrimental to be born too early or too small and its relation to symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Researchers tested whether preterm birth and small body size at birth adjusted for gestational age are independently associated with symptoms of ADHD in children.

A preterm birth is defined as birth that occurs before 37 weeks of gestation. A premature baby is susceptible to a multitude of complications. Similarly IUGR increases the risk for a variety of pregnancy and newborn complications.

The study sample comprised 828 children followed up to 56 months. Gestational age was calculated from the date of the mother's last menstrual period. Data on the weight (measured in grams) of the newborns were extracted from birth records. These data were used to assess IUGR. The study results showed that small for gestational age (those below the mean for weight at birth) status and lower birth weight scores were associated with higher ADHD symptoms. And this was independent of gestational age.

'Intrauterine growth restriction reflected in SGA status and lower birth weight, rather than prematurity or lower gestational age per se, may increase risk for symptoms of ADHD in young children', concluded the study.

Ultrasound examinations form a major part of ante-natal care. Timely imaging scans help doctors to identify birth defects at the earliest and to do the necessary interventions. Retarded growth of the fetus has a number of risks associated with it. ADHD is just one among the many evils that IUGR may lead to.

Reference: BioMed Central, National Institute of Mental Health - http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/10/91

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