Young mums more likely to have children with ADHD

Matt Woodley

24/10/2019 4:05:58 PM

Research has found the genetic risk of ADHD in children is particularly strong for women aged younger than 20 when they give birth.

Mum helping bored son with homework.
There is a clear genetic link between ADHD and young mothers.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia, used the genetic data of 220,685 women via the UK Biobank to examine genetic correlations between five female reproductive traits and six common psychiatric disorders.
UniSA researcher Associate Professor Hong Lee believes the findings can help improve reproductive health in women and deliver better outcomes for their children.
‘Young mums can have it tough, especially as they’re adjusting to becoming a parent while they’re still young themselves,’ he said.
‘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.’
Associate Professor Lee said the twofold approach related to the study involves informing young women about the high genetic risk of having a child with ADHD if they give birth at a young age, and educating young mothers about its signs.
‘ADHD is treatable, but early diagnosis and interventions are key to a successful outcome,’ he said.
‘[Teaching] young mothers about the features of ADHD, such as impulsivity and inattentive behaviours … may help mothers better recognise the condition in their child and seek treatment sooner than later.’
However, while Associate Professor Lee said the findings are significant, he added there are some hidden complexities.
‘It’s important to understand that while there is a clear genetic link between ADHD and young mothers, this is not necessarily a causal relationship,’ he said.
‘ADHD is a highly heritable disorder which means that a young mother may also have the genes affecting ADHD risk which is then inherited by her child.
‘Knowing a woman has a genetic predisposition for ADHD can be recorded in her family medical history then used to monitor her health and the health of her offspring. In this way, we’re able to ensure both mother and baby receive the support and help they need.’
The traits Lee studied were; age at first birth, age at first sexual intercourse, age at first occurrence of menstruation, age at menopause, and number of live births, while the six common psychiatric disorders were; ADHD, autism, eating disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder genetics research

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