A new study finds that babies who are born to mother’s who have gestational diabetes are twice as likely to have ADHD than are their peers, (whose mother’s did not have gestational diabetes). Another factor that increases the risk of ADHD is when children are born into families with a below-average socioeconomic status.
There was a study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Researchers followed 212 children who lived in Queens, New York. The children were from “ethnically and socioeconomically diverse” backgrounds. A total of 10% of the children in the study were exposed to gestational diabetes.
The children were followed from the time they entered preschool through when they turned six years old. Each child was evaluated by a trained psychologist, or by a doctoral student. Specifically, the children were being evaluated to determine if they were exhibiting symptoms of ADHD. This was done once a year.
The study found that the children of mother’s who had gestational diabetes were twice as likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD (by the time the child was six years old). It also found that children who were born into a family with “below-average socioeconomic status” also had twice the risk of having ADHD.
If you put those two factors together, things increase. Children who were born to mother’s who had gestational diabetes, and who were born into a household that was “less – than – affluent” had a 14-fold increased risk of having ADHD, (when compared with kids who didn’t have either one of those two risk factors).
Gestational diabetes is the term used for when a women develops diabetes during a pregnancy. In other words, it refers to women who did not have diabetes before they became pregnant, but who ended up having the disease after they became pregnant.
According to the American Diabetes Association gestational diabetes happens when the hormones in the placenta block the action of the mother’s insulin in her body. This is called insulin resistance.
It means that the mother has abnormally high blood sugar. The baby is bombarded with excess blood sugar, and has to use energy to absorb that excess amount of sugar. This happens at a time when nervous-system development is happening. As a result, the central nervous system may not develop properly.
How does poverty affect things? Women who are low-income might not be able to control their gestational diabetes as well as women who have more money. This could be because the women who are poor cannot afford to see a doctor as frequently as they would need to in order to help control their gestational diabetes.
Image by Catherine Scott on Flickr