Socioeconomic status and ADHD in children

The risk of a child experiencing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be increased if he or she is of a lower socioeconomic status. This is the suggestion of new research published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the books of the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found the likelihood can also rise due to maternal gestational diabetes.

According to the study, a combination of the two may cause a 14-fold greater risk of the condition in six-year-olds.

Yoko Nomura, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Queens College and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Medical Centre - which is the largest private independent not-for-profit teaching hospital in South Florida - noted the investigation was the first of its kind to consider the two factors together.

Dr Nomura stated: "The results show these children are at far greater risk for developing ADHD or showing signs of impaired neurocognitive and behavioural development."

Barry Bourne, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "My belief is that ADHD is predominantly an inherited personality characteristic, which like most such characteristics is highly likely to be exarcerbated in degree of expression by the efficacy of parental management style or otherwise. 

"Hence, the piece of research would need to have controlled for such significant influences upon the results.

"I have always considered that individuals who experience the potentially toxic combination of ADHD and adverse environmental circumstances - including social deprivation and poor parental management style - are infinitely more likely to display anti-social and delinquent behaviours from adolescence into adulthood, leading to a much greater risk of subsequent incarceration. 

"Certainly, research shows a high incidence of ADHD in the prison population, which consists disproportionately of lower social economic groupings.

"Moreover, my experience of having assessed many children and students with ADHD is to agree with the research that all (irrespective of social grouping) are at much greater risk of neurocognitive and behavioural impairment, compared with the general population, as they are to display comorbid disorders.

"Another potential confounding factor in the research is the difficulty of distinguishing ADHD from behavioural characteristics which may mimic its presentation - especially in the very young - which may be the result of gross parental mismanagement.

"I have no knowledge of gestational diabetes, but no doubt adverse maternal chemistry could account for acquired hyperactive behaviours in children, in addition to the overwhelming influence (in my opinion) of genetic transmission, of which I have much personal and professional evidence."