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Nearly-term Babies at Elevated Risk for ADHD

babies not carried to full term may be at increased risk of ADHDWhile it is known that very premature babies are at an increased risk of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a new study suggests that babies who have even a slightly premature birth are also at risk for ADHD.

Researchers at the University of Turku in Finland used health registries to collect data about 10,321 children born between 1991 and 2005. After accounting for other factors such as substance abuse during pregnancy, father’s age, urbanity of the child’s birthplace, etc., the researchers concluded that premature birth was associated with ADHD. They found that babies born at 25 weeks were five times, or 500 percent, more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than those born at a “full-term” of 40 weeks. At 38 weeks, babies were still 12 percent more likely to develop the disorder.

There is evidence to support the conclusion that prematurity and poor fetal growth are associated with chronic disorders and diseases. A professor from the University of Sao Paulo Medical School in Brazil is cited in an article in Reuters Health saying, “The fact that even some early term babies, who would not be considered premature, had an increased risk may indicate that the risk is continuous, with no specific cut-off point.” He added, “Preventing preterm birth is always an important goal, because it has a causal role to a variety of other negative outcomes.”

Studies have suggested that women who take antidepressants; specifically those in a class known as selective serotonin repute inhibitors, during pregnancy may be more likely to deliver their babies prematurely. Popular SSRIs include Zoloft and Effexor.

According the Centers for Disease Control, 11.6 percent of infants in the United States are born prematurely, which is defined as birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy has elapsed. The research found that the risk of birth before 37 weeks was 53 percent higher in women who took an antidepressant during pregnancy. Pregnant women who took an antidepressant after week 29, or in the third and final trimester, increased the risk of a preterm birth by 96 percent. About 180,000 fetuses are exposed to an antidepressant every year. More than 10 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. feel depression during pregnancy, and about 8 percent take an antidepressant.

You should always consult a doctor before stopping or changing your medication. If you or someone you love has given birth to a child with birth defects or health complications after taking antidepressants during pregnancy, legal remedies may be available. Contact a Lopez McHugh SSRI birth defect attorney today.