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What is the relationship between premature birth and ADHD?
Preterm babies are more likely to suffer from some health problems. Researchers have now found that babies born one month early are more likely to develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) later in life.
In their current study, scientists at the Institute of Public Health in Oslo found that babies born one month prematurely are at increased risk of developing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "JAMA Pediatrics".
Girls are particularly badly affected
If babies are born before the 34th week of pregnancy, this increases the likelihood of symptoms such as hyperactivity or a short attention span. Hyperactivity occurs more often in premature babies, while short attention spans influence those affected later in life, the experts explain. Girls are particularly affected by these effects. Earlier results suggested that premature babies could have underdeveloped organs, which could lead to inflammation and hormonal changes, which then cause ADHD.
Data from more than 113,000 children were evaluated
For their study, the physicians analyzed the results of a Norwegian cohort study of mothers and children, which contained the data from more than 113,000 children. Of the children participating, 33,081 were siblings. This is the first study to look at the relationship between preterm birth and ADHD symptoms by comparing siblings, the scientists say. The current study analyzed how likely premature babies were at five and eight years of age for ADHD.
When is it a premature birth?
Premature birth can lead to physical difficulties and various developmental problems that last a lifetime, say the doctors. A baby is born prematurely if the baby is born at least three weeks early (before the 37th week of pregnancy). Premature babies are often underweight and smaller than normal-born children. Sometimes physical growth and development is delayed in affected children.
Further effects of premature birth
Early birth has also been associated with general behavioral and personality problems that are believed to be caused by abnormalities in brain development. The lungs are one of the last vital organs that only fully develop after 32 weeks. For this reason, premature babies are more likely to suffer from asthma and other lung problems. Children born prematurely later also have intestinal, hearing, vision and tooth problems and get infections more often. Premature birth is the biggest cause of child mortality in the United States. In 2015 alone, around 17 percent of infant deaths were caused by premature births and low birth weights, the scientists explain.
Test can determine probability of premature birth
A new low-cost test could predict a woman's risk of preterm delivery. This test would allow doctors to initiate treatment to prevent premature birth or complications during pregnancy. Combined with information about other risk factors such as the mother's age and income, the test can predict with more than 80 percent accuracy whether a woman is at risk of preterm delivery. Preterm delivery is often associated with inflammation and has many potential causes, including possible acute maternal infection, exposure to environmental toxins, or chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. (as)