Unhealthy diets during pregnancy 'may increase risk of ADHD in children'

18 August 2016

Expectant mothers who maintain an unhealthy diet could be putting their children at a greater risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This is according to a new report from King's College London and the University of Bristol, which has indicated that a high-fat, high-sugar diet during pregnancy could be linked to symptoms of ADHD in children who show conduct problems early in life.

For this study, 83 children with early-onset conduct problems were compared with 81 children who had low levels of conduct problems. Poor prenatal nutrition, comprising high fat and sugar diets of processed food and confectionery, was shown to be associated with higher levels of a gene involved in foetal growth and the brain development of areas implicated in ADHD.

Efforts will now be made to examine more specific types of nutrition, such as omega 3 fatty acids, which are known to be important for neural development.

Dr Edward Barker from King's College London said: "We already know that nutritional supplements for children can lead to lower ADHD and conduct problems, so it will be important for future research to examine the role of epigenetic changes in this process."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

 


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