Deficiency in the levels of vitamin D in pregnant women is associated with a higher risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, according to a study.
ADHD makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviours.
The study is the first population-level research to demonstrate an association between low maternal vitamin D level in early to mid-pregnancy and an elevated risk for diagnosed ADHD in the offspring, the researchers said.
“Alongside genotype, prenatal factors such as vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy, can influence the development of ADHD,” said Minna Sucksdorff from the University of Turku in Finland.
The study, published in Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, included 1,067 children born between 1998 and 1999 diagnosed with ADHD in Finland, and the same number of matched controls.
The data was collected before the current national recommendation in Finland for the intake of vitamin D during pregnancy, which is 10 microgrammes per day throughout the year.
Primary investigator, Professor Andre Sourander said that, despite the recommendations, vitamin D deficiency is still a global problem.
“This research offers strong evidence that a low level of vitamin D during pregnancy is related to attention deficiency in offspring,” Sourander said.
“As ADHD is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, the research results have a great significance for public health,” he said.
The study is part of a larger research project that aims to discover the connections between the mother’s health during pregnancy and ADHD in offspring, the researchers said.
The goal is to produce information for developing preventative treatments and measures for identifying children with ADHD risk, they said
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