A new study from Sweden has found a link between premature birth and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
The study shows that babies who were born as little as three weeks before their expected delivery date have an increased chance of being prescribed with some type of ADHD drug later in life. The more premature the baby is, the more the odds increase.
The study contained 1 million children between the ages of 6 to 19. Of the children studied, 7,605 had been prescribed one of the leading medications for ADHD.
The study concluded that severely premature babies are more likely to develop the condition than those born at full term. Six out of every 1,000 babies born full term are likely to be prescribed an ADHD medication later in life, while 15 out of every 1,000 premature babies developed the condition. Babies who were born a few weeks premature, from 37 to 39 weeks, are about 20% more likely to develop ADHD.
Doctors are using this information to warn expectant mothers of the risks involved when they opt to schedule a cesarean section a few weeks before their expected delivery date, and suggest to schedule this procedure as close to full term as possible to avoid a higher risk of the child developing ADHD.
Low birth weight, smoking during pregnancy and other factors also increase this risk.