New research finds no clear link between maternal diabetes in pregnancy and ADHD in children

UNSW Sydney

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children is unlikely to be directly caused by maternal diabetes during pregnancy, new research shows.

A multinational study of more than 3.6 million mother-baby pairs found no clear link between the two, challenging previous research that suggested maternal diabetes during or before pregnancy could significantly heighten the risk of ADHD in children.

The research, published in Nature Medicine, was based on a 20-year longitudinal study of mothers and babies in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Taiwan, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It was co-authored by Scientia Associate Professor Helga Zoega, of UNSW’s School of Population Health and a Professor at the University of Iceland.

“Our study found only a modest association between maternal diabetes and ADHD after considering the intricate interplay of various influential factors,” A/Prof. Zoega said, meaning women planning pregnancy should look at their holistic risk profile rather than focusing solely on gestational diabetes.

She added that the study highlighted the need for future research to investigate the specific roles of genetic factors and proper blood sugar control during different stages of embryonic brain development in humans.

A/Prof. Zoega is

/Public Release.