Studies suggest an association between premature birth and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—especially in the very and extremely preterm (VP/EP) or very and extremely low birth weight (VLBW/ELBW) babies. How much of a higher risk does exist? Franz et al. (10.1542/peds.2017-1645) decided to answer that question by doing a systematic review and meta-analysis of the prevalence of ADHD in the VP/VLBW and EP/ELBW population in comparison to normal birth weight or term infants based on cross-sectional prospective or retrospective studies. While there is heterogeneity in the 12 studies identified, involving close to 1800 infants, there is evidence provided that there is an increased risk especially in the EP/ELBW groups. In fact, the authors show a 300% increased risk of developing ADHD with this low birth weight preterm grouping of babies.
So what are the risk factors that might better indicate who is at risk for ADHD in this extremely young population? Drs. Joel Nigg and Minkyoung Song from Oregon Health Sciences University share their opinion about this study and its implications in an accompanying editorial that also requires your attention. In this commentary (10.1542/peds.2017-3488), the authors explore the role of genetics and environment in analyzing why this association is as strong as it is, and what might be the mediators that can contribute to or prevent ADHD from occurring. If you care for preterm infants or children with ADHD, this review article and commentary are well worth your focus.