Feature

Health scare of the week: Diabetes, poverty, and ADHD

The offspring of pregnant women with untreated gestational diabetes are at greater risk for ADHD, developmental delays, emotional problems, and lower-than-average IQs.

Pregnant women who develop gestational diabetes have double the risk of bearing children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, new research shows. If a woman is also poor, her child will be 14 times more likely to show symptoms of ADHD by age 6, Health.com reports. The findings are alarming because 5 percent of pregnant women do develop gestational diabetes, and many of them—especially those who can’t afford prenatal care—don’t realize it. If the diabetes goes untreated, “there may be consequences on the brain development of the child,” says Luigi Garibaldi, a pediatric specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

In addition to ADHD, children of low-income mothers who had gestational diabetes are more likely to exhibit developmental delays, emotional problems, and lower-than-average IQs than the children of wealthier mothers who had the same condition—probably because they receive less medical attention. Sticking to a diet low in saturated fat and sugar can help prevent gestational diabetes, but poorer women are less likely than wealthier women to do so.

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