Study: ADHD Symptoms Associated with Early Preterm Birth

June 25th 2018
Cecilia Pessoa Gingerich
Cecilia Pessoa Gingerich

Early preterm birth—delivery at gestational age 22-33 weeks—is associated with a higher level of ADHD symptoms in preschool-age children, especially girls, according to a decade-long prospective cohort study.

Early preterm birth—delivery at gestational age 22-33 weeks—is associated with a higher level of ADHD symptoms in preschool-age children, according to a decade-long prospective cohort study of siblings in Norway. Children who were born early preterm scored an average of 0.24 SD (95% CI, 0.14-0.34) higher on ADHD symptoms at age 5 compared with children born at 40 weeks gestational age.

“The findings illustrate potential gains of reducing preterm birth and the importance

of providing custom support to children born preterm to prevent neurodevelopmental problems,” said the study authors Helga Ask, PhD, Kristin Gustavson, PhD, Eivind Ystrom, PhD, et al.

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ublished online in

the study also found that early premature birth was associated with inattentive, but not hyperactive ADHD symptoms in children at 8 years of age. Compared to siblings born at 40 weeks, children born early preterm scored 0.32 SD D (95% CI, 0.02-0.62) higher on ADHD at 5 years of age, 0.31 SD (95% CI, 0.05-0.57) higher on inattention at 8 years of age, and 0.03 (95% CI, −0.32 to 0.26) lower on hyperactivity at 8 years of age.

JAMA Pediatrics,

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the association between preterm birth and symptoms of ADHD using a sibling-comparison design,” said the authors.

In addition, results showed a sex by gestational week interaction effect on ADHD symptoms when children were 5 years old. Girls born at gestational age 22-33 weeks scored a mean of 0.8 SD higher compared to their sisters born at full term (95% CI, 0.12-1.46;

= .02). This association between gestational age and ADHD symptoms at 5 years of age was not observed in boys when compared to their brothers.

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“Our results suggest that the negative consequences of being born preterm are most pronounced in girls (at 5 years of age), although the power of the sex-stratified analyses is limited,” said study authors.

For more information, read the full article atMDmag.com.

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