Pregnant Women With Obesity and Diabetes May Be More Likely to Have a Child With ADHD – Neuroscience News

Summary: Children born to women with gestational diabetes and obesity were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than those born to mothers who did not suffer from those conditions.

Source: The Endocrine Society

Children of women with gestational diabetes and obesity may be twice as likely to develop attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared to those whose mothers did not have obesity, according to new research published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The estimated number of children aged 3–17 years ever diagnosed with ADHD is 6 million, according to data from 2016-2019. A major risk factor for ADHD in children is maternal obesity. Roughly 30% of women have obesity at their first doctor’s visit during pregnancy, and this number increases to 47% in women with gestational diabetes.

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy in this population is a risk factor for children developing ADHD.

“Our study found pregnant women with obesity and gestational diabetes had children with long-term mental health disorders such as ADHD,” said Verónica Perea, M.D., Ph.D., of the Hospital Universitari MutuaTerrassa in Barcelona, Spain.

“We did not find this association when these women gained a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy.”

The researchers studied 1,036 children born to women with gestational diabetes. Thirteen percent of these children were diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers found children of women with gestational diabetes and obesity were twice as likely to have ADHD compared to those born to mothers without obesity.

This shows a pair of baby shoesThe researchers found children of women with gestational diabetes and obesity were twice as likely to have ADHD compared to those born to mothers without obesity. Image is in the public domain

The researchers only found this association in women with gestational diabetes, obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. The researchers did not observe a higher risk of ADHD in children of women with gestational diabetes and obesity if the amount of weight these women gained during pregnancy was within the normal range.

“It’s important for clinicians to counsel their patients on the importance of healthy weight gain during pregnancy,” Perea said.

Other authors of this study include Andreu Simó-Servat, Carmen Quirós, Nuria Alonso-Carril, Maite Valverde, Maria-José Barahona, Xavier Urquizu, Eva López and Maria-José Barahona of the Hospital Universitari Mútua de Terrassa; and Antonio J. Amor of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.

The study received funding from the Fundació Docència i Recerca Mútua Terrassa.


Role of Excessive Weight Gain During Gestation in the Risk of ADHD in Offspring of Women with Gestational Diabetes


Although attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been associated with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and maternal obesity, excessive weight gain (EWG) during pregnancy has scarcely been evaluated.


This study aimed to assess the joint effect of maternal weight and EWG on the risk of ADHD in offspring of GDM pregnancies.


In this cohort study of singleton births >22 weeks of gestation of women with GDM between 1991 and 2008, gestational weight gain above the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recommendations was classified into EWG. Cox-regression models estimated the effect of maternal pregestational weight and EWG on the risk of ADHD (identified from medical records), adjusted for pregnancy outcomes and GDM-related variables.


Of 1036 children who were included, with a median follow-up of 17.7 years, 135 (13%) were diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD rates according to pregestational maternal weight were 1/14 (7.1%) for underweight, 62/546 (11.4%) for normal weight, 40/281 (14.2%) for overweight, and 32/195 (16.4%) for obesity. Only maternal obesity was independently associated with ADHD (HRadjusted 1.66 [95% CI, 1.07-2.60]), but not maternal overweight or EWG. On evaluating the joint contribution of maternal weight and EWG, maternal obesity with EWG was associated with the highest risk of ADHD (vs normal weight without EWG; HRadjusted 2.13 [95% CI, 1.14-4.01]). Pregestational obesity without EWG was no longer associated (HRadjusted 1.36 [95% CI, 0.78-2.36]).


Among GDM pregnancies, pregestational obesity was associated with a higher risk of ADHD in offspring. Nonetheless, when gestational weight gain was taken into account, only the joint association of obesity and EWG remained significant.


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