Having gestational diabetes and obesity when pregnant increases a woman’s chance of having a child who goes on to develop ADHD, new research has found.

Researchers found that excessive weight gain during pregnancy in women with these two conditions meant their child may be twice as likely to have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

Dr Verónica Perea, from the Hospital Universitari MutuaTerrassa in Spain, said: “Our study found pregnant women with obesity and gestational diabetes had children with long-term mental health disorders such as ADHD.

“We did not find this association when these women gained a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy.”

It is known that maternal obesity is a risk factor for ADHD, with excessive weight gain during pregnancy a risk factor among women with obesity and gestational diabetes.

Around 47% of women with gestational diabetes have obesity at their first medical appointment during pregnancy.

The research team looked at the data of just over 1,000 children whose mothers had gestational diabetes, and found that 13% had been diagnosed with ADHD.

They found this link only in women with gestational diabetes, obesity and excessive weight gain during their pregnancy. The association was not found in women with the two conditions whose weight gain during pregnancy was in the normal range.

This has prompted Dr Perea to say: “It’s important for clinicians to counsel their patients on the importance of healthy weight gain during pregnancy.”

The findings have been published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.


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