Can Premature Birth Increase ADHD Risk?

“Teacher reports, combined with maternal reports and physician assessments, provide information,” said Nancy Reichman, study author and professor of pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine. Valuable input for the diagnosis of ADHD. “Mother-reported symptoms often reflect behaviors in the home or in small families or social groups, while symptoms reported by teachers reflect behaviors in structured educational settings.” by professionals who work with a large number of children and observe the behaviors that students exhibit in the classroom.”

Reichman and her team, which included Geethanjali Linguasubramanian, a neonatology fellow at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, sought to estimate the association between full-term gestational age and ADHD symptoms in 9-year-olds by teachers. their report.

They analyzed data on about 1,400 children in the Fragile Families and Children’s Health study, a US birth cohort study that randomly sampled births at 75 hospitals in 20 major cities. of the United States from 1998 to 2000 and re-interviewed mothers over nine years. During 9 years of follow-up, informed consent was obtained to contact the children’s teachers, who were asked to rate their students using the Short Form modified teacher rating scale. of Conners, including symptoms of hyperactivity, ADHD, oppositional behavior, and cognitive or inattention problems.


Overall, the Rutgers researchers found that full-term infants (37-38 weeks) scored significantly higher on the teacher’s scale than full-term infants (39-41 weeks) in terms of literacy. hyperactivity, ADHD, and cognitive or inattention problems, but that gestational age was not significantly associated with oppositional behavior.

Specifically, the researchers found that each week of term gestational age was associated with a 6% reduction in hyperactivity scores and a 5% lower ADHD and cognitive problems or inattention scores, and that birth at 37 to 38 weeks was associated with 23% higher hyperactivity scores and 17 percent higher ADHD scores when compared to infants at 39 to 41 weeks.

“These findings add to the growing evidence that supports current recommendations for selectively delaying childbirth to at least 39 weeks and suggest that routine screening for ADHD symptoms is important for babies born between 37 and 38 weeks.”

“Significant growth and development in many different types of brain cells was observed between 34 and 40 weeks of gestation,” says Reichman. “Term babies may benefit from an extra one to two weeks of brain growth in utero compared to full-term babies.”

Source: Eurekalert

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