Babies born premature are more likely to develop ADHD, says new study

Babies who are born too soon or weigh very little at birth are three times more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than full-term, healthy-sized infants, says a new study.

The study looked at data from 12 previous research papers and found that the odds of ADHD increased even more with babies who spent even fewer months in the womb and were born at even tinier sizes.

Experts say that this is probably because the stress of the early birth or the premature development of vital organs and systems might lead to inflammation and hormonal changes in the body that contribute to ADHD.

There are other factors too like mothers' medical histories as well as smoking, eating and drinking habits during pregnancy that can affect the chances of preterm birth or an underweight infant.

Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks, and babies born after 37 weeks are considered full term. Premature babies often find it hard to breathe and digest food after birth. They can also encounter challenges like low impaired vision, hearing and reasoning skills as well as social and behavioral problems.

How can you ensure your baby is full term?

Women, who live in high-income countries where malnutrition is not a problem can help to reduce their chances of having a preterm baby by doing several things during pregnancy. This includes eating well, gaining a healthy amount of weight, not smoking, avoiding stress and getting enough sleep.

If after this they still have underweight babies, women can reduce the chances of ADHD by breastfeeding babies as long as possible and making sure they get get plenty of calories.

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