“Alongside genotypes, prenatal factors like vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can influence the development of ADHD,” says Minna Sucksdorff, University of Turun, Finland.
The study is the first population-level research to demonstrate an association between low maternal vitamin D level in early to mid-pregnancy and an elevated risk for diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ADHD in the offspring.
The study involved 1,067 children with ADHD who were born between 1998-99 in Finland. There was also a similar number of controls. The data were collected prior to the current Finnish recommendation for vitamin D intake in pregnancy, which is 10 mg per day throughout the year.
Vitamin D deficiency is still a problem
Professor Andre Sourander, the principal investigator, stated that, despite all the recommendations, vitamin deficiency continues to be a global problem. For example, in Finland, mothers are not getting enough vitamin D from several immigrant groups.
“This research supports the hypothesis that low levels of vitamin D in pregnancy can lead to attention deficit in children,” said Professor Sourander. Professor Sourander says ADHD is a chronic disease that affects children most often. The research results are of great importance for public health.
The study is part a larger research project that seeks to determine the relationships between ADHD in offspring, and the mother’s pregnancy health. This research aims to identify ADHD risk children and develop preventative treatments.
The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Turu, Finland and Columbia University, New York. It was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health NIHM USA and the Academy of Finland. It is part of the University of Turu’s INVEST flagship programme.
The study was conducted using the extremely comprehensive Finnish Maternity Cohort, which consists of approximately 2,000,000 serum specimens taken during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy.
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