Are younger mothers more likely to have children with ADHD?

Research has indicated that younger moms are more likely to have children with ADHD.
Research has indicated that younger moms are more likely to have children with ADHD.

The exact causes of ADHD are still largely unknown, even though research may have identified a couple of contributing factors.

New research from the University of South Australia has recently indicated that younger mothers have a greater chance of producing a child with ADHD, according to a news release.

The research, published in Scientific Reports, tapped into the genetic relationship between female reproductive traits and psychiatric disorders. It was found that the genetic risk of ADHD in children was associated with the younger age of the mother during her first birth, especially when she was younger than 20.

The study used genetic data of 220 685 women to examine any genetic correlations between reproductive traits (age at first birth, age at first sexual intercourse, age at first occurrence of menstruation and number of live births) and six common psychiatric disorders (ADHD, autism, eating disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia).

According to Associate Professor Hong Lee, the findings of the research could help achieve better outcomes for children of younger mothers and help improve reproductive health. She stated the following:

"Young mums can have it tough, especially as they're adjusting to becoming a parent while they're still young themselves.

"By understanding the links between becoming a mother at a young age and having a child with ADHD, we're able to better educate and support families sooner.

"The approach is twofold. Firstly, we're able to inform young women about the high genetic risk of having a child with ADHD if they give birth at a young age. This may caution and prevent them from giving birth at an immature age, which not only improves their reproductive health but also the maternal environment for their baby.

"Secondly, we're able to educate young mothers about the features of ADHD, such as impulsivity and inattentive behaviours, which may help mothers better recognise the condition in their child and seek treatment sooner than later.

"ADHD is treatable, but early diagnosis and interventions are key to a successful outcome."

According to the researchers, shedding more light on genetic predispositions that may cause ADHD can help monitor the health and wellbeing of the mother and children better and may ensure that help is given where needed.

Understanding what might determine ADHD can also help avoid misunderstanding and misdiagnosing the condition in children.

Image credit: iStock

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