ADHD More Common in Children Whose Mothers Have Autoimmune Disorders

February 02, 2021

Symptoms of Autism and ADHD Often Coincide

When the American Psychiatric Association updated their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013, dual diagnoses became permitted for the first time. For years, symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been recognized to overlap.  An estimated 30 to 80 percent of children with ASD also meet the criteria for ADHD and, conversely, 20 to 50 percent of children with ADHD meet the criteria for ASD. Recently, a new cohort study and meta-analysis from the University of Sydney in Australia reported that mothers who suffer from autoimmune disease were 30% more likely to have a child with ADHD. Due to the close relationship between ASD and ADHD, this study backs up previous research which links mothers’ immune conditions with autism. Ultimately, the Australian researchers feel their findings suggest possible shared genetic vulnerabilities between autoimmune disorders and ADHD or a potential role for maternal immune activation and neurodevelopmental disorders. These researchers call for future research that measures disease activity, modifiers, and medication use to gain greater understanding of the mechanisms of these associations. Even though previous studies have linked autoimmune disorders and autism, this field of research is wide open and should be investigated more thoroughly. 

Original Article

Study Abstract

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