There is a new study out that is making some interesting connections between gestational diabetes, a child's financial status and the child's risk for developing attention and hyperactivity problems later in life.
According to the new research, published this week in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, young children whose mothers developed gestational diabetes, or diabetes during pregnancy, were twice as likely as their peers to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by age 6. Kids growing up in poor families also had twice the risk of ADHD as 6-year-olds in more affluent families. And kids who had both risk factors — those whose moms had gestational diabetes and were raised in poor families — had a 14-fold increased risk of ADHD compared to children with neither risk factor.
Gestational diabetes affects roughly 5 percent of pregnant mothers in the United States. It typically develops during the second or third trimester of pregnancy, which health experts now realize is the same time period when the growing baby undergoes a critical burst of brain and nervous system development. Gestational diabetes causes women to have abnormally high blood sugar, and this may negatively affect the development of the baby's brain and nervous system, thus leading to problems for the child down the road.
In addition, the authors of the study speculate that growing up in poverty would aggravate any underlying nervous-system deficits, therefore increasing the child's risk of developing ADHD. According to Dr. Yoko Nomura, the lead author of the study and an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, “when babies are born into higher socioeconomic status households, they have better access to medical care [and] remedial activities, intellectual stimulus is higher, they have better foods,” she says.