Study Finds That Premature Birth Can Impact The Development Of ADHD

It is certainly no secret that having a baby before the due date can come with a lot of concerns. A premature infant might be born before having had the chance to completely develop all of the physical characteristics that they need to survive without the help of machines. A big source of worry is the baby's immune system, as if it has not fully developed before birth, a little one can be at risk for all kinds of illnesses that they will not be able to fight off.

But premature birth can impact a child's health (both mental and physical) not only in the short-term but down the road as well. Norway has produced new research linking premature birth to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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Individuals who have ADHD often have difficulty staying on task, they may not be able to control physical behaviors like fidgeting or getting up and moving around, and they may act very impulsively in a variety of situations. These are, of course, only a few of the symptoms that come with the disorder, and ADHD can manifest in very different ways across individuals.

The research linking ADHD to premature birth was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal and was carried out by experts from Norway’s Institute of Public Health. The group examined data from 113,000 children and used a "sibling-comparison approach."

The study revealed that infants who are born prematurely are more likely to show symptoms of ADHD at age 8. They defined preterm birth as an infant born prior to 34 weeks of gestational development.

The study did, however, find that this was true only for inattentive symptoms (like difficulty focusing), and not hyperactive symptoms (including restlessness and an inability to sit still). The researchers cited “the immaturity of the brain and its development” as a potential cause for this relation. According to the Atlanta Journal-Consitution, 35 weeks marks a very important moment for the development of the brain while a baby is still growing inside his or her mother. Should a baby be born prematurely, they may not have developed the same volume of brain matter as they would if they were carried to term, which may be an explanation for the development of ADHD in childhood.


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