Low Apgar scores linked to higher risk of ADHD

June 3, 2011

Findings of a population-based cohort study indicate that a low Apgar score at 5 minutes in newborns is associated with a higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood.

Findings of a population-based cohort study indicate that a low Apgar score at 5 minutes in newborns is associated with a higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood.

Danish researchers studied the association between Apgar scores at 5 minutes and ADHD in 980,902 singletons born from 1988 to 2001. All children were monitored from age 3 years to a first diagnosis of hyperkinetic disorder, first medication for ADHD, migration, death, or end of 2006, whichever came first.

The risk of ADHD increased with decreasing Apgar scores at 5 minutes, independent of potential confounding factors such as low birth weight, prematurity, ADHD comorbidities, family history of mental illness, maternal socioeconomic status, and maternal smoking. The risk of ADHD was 75% higher in children with Apgar scores of 1 to 4 and 63% higher in those with scores of 5 to 6 compared with children with scores of 9 or 10 at 5 minutes.

According to the researchers, their findings, together with previous observations, indicate that the Apgar score may be useful in predicting subtler neurodevelopment disabilities such as ADHD.

Li J, Olsen J, Vestergaard M, Obel C. Low Apgar scores and risk of childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Pediatr. 2011;158(5):775-779.