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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADD/ADHD and Pregnancy

04/11/1998

Question:

What is the possible effect on a child if a parent has ADD or ADHD? Is this a hereditary condition? Do these conditions affect the pregnancy in anyway?

Answer:

The effects on the child of a parent who has ADHD can be minimal to devastating, depending on the severity of the parent's condition. If the parent has mild ADHD and/or has their symptoms under good control, there should be minimal, if any effect on the child. Because the condition can be inherited, the child has a chance of also having ADHD, separate from any effects of the parent's condition.

If the parent has severe ADHD, or if symptoms are poorly controlled, this can have a negative effect on the household. This parent will be more likely to have poor parenting skills because of the severity of their condition. Poor parenting will adversely affect the child if there are no other available adults to assist in child rearing and to provide for positive role models.

ADHD in a pregnant woman, by itself, should not adversely affect a pregnancy. If she is not caring for herself due to poorly controlled symptoms of ADHD, then there is a higher chance for a possible poor outcome due to negative impulsive and hyperactive behavior that the pregnant woman might engage in.

A search of the Internet did not reveal any studies that assess morbidity and mortality or outcomes of women with ADHD during pregnancy. Premature labor and smaller than expected infants born to women who have ADHD is certainly a possibility if the pregnant woman has minimal or no prenatal care.

It is interesting to note that one study did suggest that cigarette smoking during pregnancy was linked to learning disabilities, ADHD and other behavior disorders in the infant. For additional information on this study please click on the link below.

Related Resources:

Cigarette Smoking Causes Child Learning.....

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Response by:

Margaret C Sweeney, MD
Formerly, Associate Professor of Clinical Family Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati