Maternal obesity and excessive weight gain increase ADHD risk in offspring


A recent study independently associated maternal obesity with ADHD risk in offspring, with a significant risk observed in joint obesity and excessive weight gain.

Maternal obesity and excessive weight gain (EWG) during pregnancy increase risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring, according to a recent study.

Investigators conducted a cohort study to analyze the effects of EWG on ADHD risk, with a focus on pregnant people with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Prior studies had associated GDM and maternal obesity with ADHD, but there has been little data collected on the association between ADHD and EWG.

Births were eligible for the study if offspring were above 22 weeks of gestational age, of singleton birth, born between 1991 and 2008, and born of women with GDM. EWG classification was based on guidelines from the National Academy of Medicine.

The risk of EWG on ADHD was measured by cox-regression models, which were adjusted based on variables affected by GDM and pregnancy.

There were 1036 children participatingin the study, 135 of which had been diagnosed with ADHD during the median 17.7-year period for follow-up. Based on pregestational maternal weight, ADHD rates were 1 in 14 (7.1%) for underweight, 62 in 546 (11.4%) for normal weight, 40 in 281 (14.2%) for overweight, and 32 in 195 (16.4%) for obesity.

While maternal obesity was independently associated with ADHD, maternal overweight and EWG were not. In joint contributions, maternal obesity with EWG saw the highest risk of ADHD. There was no association observed in pregestational obesity without EWG.

These results implicated pregestational obesity with higher ADHD risk in GDM pregnancies, along with a significant risk in the joint association of obesity and EWG when accounting for gestational weight gain.


Verónica Perea, Andreu Simó-Servat, Carmen Quirós, Nuria Alonso-Carril, Maite Valverde, Xavier Urquizu. Role of excessive weight gain during gestation in the risk of ADHD in offspring of women with gestational diabetes. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2022;107(10):4203–4211. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgac483

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