Prenatal Oxygen Deprivation Increases ADHD Risk in Children

Fetal respiratory issues influence ADHD occurence more than familial and genetic causes do

  Prenatal respiratory problems increase the risk of ADHD in children
Children who, as fetuses, have suffered a certain oxygen deprivation caused by ischemic-hypoxic conditions  are more likely to experience an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later in life, study shows.

Children who, as fetuses, have suffered a certain oxygen deprivation caused by ischemic-hypoxic conditions  are more likely to experience an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later in life, study shows.

The research shows that the child's condition before birth plays a greater role in the ADHD occurrence than the previously stated familial and genetic causes, EurekAlert reports.

“Previous studies have found that hypoxic injury during fetal development leads to significant structural and functional brain injuries in the offspring,” explained PhD Darios Getahum, professor at the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation and head-leader of the study.

“However, this study suggests that the adverse effect of hypoxia and ischemia on prenatal brain development may lead to functional problems, including ADHD.”

The study consisted of the analysis of about 82,000 electronic health records coming from 5-year-old children, in a comparative examination of IHC and ADHD conditions.

The results have shown that fetuses' exposure to IHC conditions, such as preeclampsia, birth asphyxia or neonatal respiratory distress syndrome, causes an over 16% increase of the ADHD risk. Research has also proved that there was no difference in the rise of ADHD risk in terms of races or ethnicity groups.

However, it was revealed that the link between IHC and ADHD was stronger in the case of preterm births.

“Our findings could have important clinical implications. They could help physicians identify newborns at-risk that could benefit from surveillance and early diagnosis, when treatment is more effective,” Getahum declared.

“We suggest future research to focus on pre- and post-natal conditions and the associations with adverse outcomes, such as ADHD.”

ADHD is one of the world's public heath priorities, considering its extremely widespread influence. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention declared that in 2010, around 8.4 % of 3- to 17-year-old children had been diagnosed with ADHD, almost half of them carrying the disorder into adulthood.

The disease was estimated to bring the United States' government an annual expense of $36 billion (€27.89 billion) to $52.4 billion (€40.6 billion).

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