Children from families living below breadline more likely to have ADHD

A new study reveals a link between social and economic status and childhood attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study, which followed more than 19,500 children born in the UK between 2000 and 2002.

Information was gathered from surveys, when the cohort children were nine months old, and then at age three, five, seven and 11.

The findings show that more children with ADHD came from families living in poverty, with an average weekly household income of £324.

The odds of parents in social housing having a child with ADHD was around three times greater than for those who owned their own homes.

Researchers also found that there was a significantly increased chance of a child having ADHD if they had a young mother or lived in a lone parent household.

Mothers with no qualifications were more than twice as likely to have a child with the condition than those with degrees.

The authors of the study claim that the findings support previous similar studies carried out in Northern Europe, the United States and Australia.

Dr Ginny Russell from the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said, ‘There is a genetic element to ADHD, but this study provides strong evidence that it is also associated with a disadvantaged social and economic background.

‘Some people believe that ADHD in children causes disadvantage to the economic situation of their family, but we found no evidence to support that theory. It’s important to discover more about the causes of this disorder so we can look towards prevention, and so that we can target treatment and support effectively.’

 The study-‘The association of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with socioeconomic disadvantage: alternative explanations and evidence’, is published in the journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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