Maternal body mass index before pregnancy as a risk factor for ADHD and autism in children

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Journal Article
European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2018, 27 (2), pp. 139 - 148
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10.1007%2Fs00787-017-1027-6.pdfPublished Version554.64 kB
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© 2017, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany. The risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may be influenced by environmental factors such as maternal obesity before pregnancy. Previous studies investigating those associations have found divergent results. We aim to investigate in a large birth cohort this association further in children with ADHD, ASD and comorbid ADHD and ASD. Our study population consisted of 81,892 mother–child pairs participating in the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC). Information about pre-pregnancy weight and height was collected in week 16 of pregnancy; the analysis was divided into groups based on BMI. Children with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD and/or ASD were identified in the Danish health registries at an average age of 13.3 years. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated using time-to-event analysis. Compared to normal weight mothers, the risk of having a child with ADHD was significantly increased if the mother was overweight (HR = 1.28 [95% CI 1.15;1.48]), obese (HR = 1.47 [95% CI 1.26;1.71]) or severely obese (HR = 1.95 [95% CI 1.58;2.40]). The same pattern was seen for the combined ADHD and ASD group. Regarding ASD, an increased risk was observed in underweight (HR = 1.30 [95% CI 1.01;1.69]) and obese (HR = 1.39 [95% CI 1.11;1.75]) mothers. Subgroup analysis revealed that the association in the ADHD group could mostly be attributable to the hyperactive group. Maternal obesity before pregnancy is a risk factor for ADHD in children. Maternal obesity as well as underweight may also be associated with an increased risk for ASD.
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