Hyper Hypo or No?

Baby's health in the first five minutes of life may predict risk of ADHD

February 16, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) The health of a baby in the first five minutes of exiting the womb may be associated with his or her risk of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In a study involving data on 980,902 newborns from Denmark, researchers wanted to see if low Apgar scores were linked to an increased risk of ADHD. Apgar scores are a way that doctors rate a baby's health in the minutes following birth. The score is based on several factors, including breathing, heart rate, and muscle tone. A baby who receives a score of 7 or above is in good health, with a 10 being the best possible score.

The babies involved in the study were monitored from age three until they were either diagnosed with hyperkinetic disorder, were first prescribed ADHD medications, moved out of the country, died, or until the study ended in 2006.

The researchers found that lower Apgar scores were associated with an increased risk of developing ADHD. Compared to children with high Apgar scores (a 9 or 10) at 5 minutes after birth, children with the lowest Apgar scores (1 to 4) had a 75 percent increased risk of developing ADHD. Those with scores of 5 to 6 faced a 63 percent increased risk of developing ADHD.

The authors conclude that low Apgar scores and the development of ADHD may share common causes. At the least, one causal pathway of ADHD may be indicated by a low Apgar score.

In the United States, about 5.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD.

The study is published in The Journal of Pediatrics.