Every now and then, a new survey will come out relaying the risks of having children when you’re older, even though studies have shown that older parents have better-behaved children. But yesterday, a new study conducted by the University of South Australia, which was published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, explains how younger moms are more likely to have kids with ADHD — especially those under the age of 20.
According to the eye-opening research that discovered the genetic relationship between female reproductive traits and key psychiatric disorders, ADHD in children was strongly linked with early maternal age at first birth. Before they came to this conclusion, they used genetic data from 220,685 women to find the correlation between factors like a woman’s age at first sexual intercourse and first birth to common disorders among ADHD like autism and depression.
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UniSA researcher, Associate Professor Hong Lee explains how this new information can educate young women about the genetic risks of having children at a young age and prevent or caution women from getting pregnant before they’re ready. “Which not only improves their reproductive health but also the maternal environment for their baby,” she says in the study.
Beyond educating women about these risks, Lee hopes the study gives young women a better understanding of ADHD and awareness of the warning signs in their children. “We’re able to educate young mothers about the features of ADHD, such as impulsivity and inattentive behaviors, which may help mothers better recognize the condition in their child and seek treatment sooner than later.”
Lee wants observers to know that ADHD is highly heritable and it could be that a younger mother has the genes affecting ADHD risk which is then inherited by her child.
“Knowing a woman has a genetic predisposition for ADHD can be recorded in her family medical history then used to monitor her health and the health of her offspring. In this way, we’re able to ensure both mother and baby receive the support and help they need.”
Unfortunately, you can’t control whether or not your ADHD genes are passed down to your child. More importantly, this study shouldn’t deter someone from having children at a younger age if that’s what they want. These findings, though, rightfully raises awareness for the psychiatric disorder found in 6 million American children between the ages of 4 and 17.
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