Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy May Be Linked to Offspring ADHD

February 13, 2020

Maternal vitamin D levels may play a role in influencing the development of ADHD.

Low maternal vitamin D levels may be associated with an increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Academy ofChild & Adolescent Psychiatry.1

The population-level study, which was conducted in Finland, aimed to determine whether there was a link between vitamin D deficiency during early to mid-pregnancy and an elevated risk for offspring ADHD.

Overall, 1067 children born between 1998 and 1999 diagnosed with ADHD, along with the same number matched controls, were included in the study. The researchers used data collected before the national recommendation in Finland for the intake of vitamin D during pregnancy. Maternal vitamin D levels were measured using quantitative immunoassay from maternal era collected during the first trimester.

According to the results, there was a significant association between decreasing vitamin D levels and offspring ADHD in the adjusted analyses (odds ratio 1.65; 95% CI 1.33-2.05; p<.001). The analyses adjusting for maternal socioeconomic status and age also demonstrated the same association (odds ratio 1.45; 95% CI 1.15-1.81; p=.002).  

Overall, the risk of ADHD was 34% higher in children whose mother had a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy, compared with those whose mother’s vitamin D level was sufficient, according to the study.

The findings demonstrate that prenatal factors, such as vitamin D deficiency, may influence the development of ADHD in children, study author Minna Sucksdorff, MD, said in a press release about the study.2

“If replicated in independent samples, this finding may have significant public health implications,” the authors concluded.

The study is part of larger research looking at the connections between the mother’s health during pregnancy and ADHD in offspring.

References:

1. Sourander A, Sucksdorff M, Brown AS, et al. Maternal vitamin D levels and the risk of offspring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 2019. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2019.11.021

2. Vitamin D Deficiency during Pregnancy Connected to Elevated Risk of ADHD [news release]. University of Turku’s website. https://www.utu.fi/en/news/press-release/vitamin-d-deficiency-during-pregnancy-connected-to-elevated-risk-of-adhd. Accessed February 10, 2020.