Preschoolers whose parents report depression and intimate partner violence may be more likely to develop attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD or ADHD) by the age of 6, new research suggests.
And young children with depressed moms may be more likely to receive prescription drugs to treat behavioral and mental health issues down the road.
“Our study indicates that preschoolers who are diagnosed with ADHD are more likely to have been exposed to both intimate partner violence and parental depression within the first three years of life than their peers not exposed to either risk factor,” said study author Dr. Nerissa Bauer, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis.
“There has been increasing awareness that certain psychosocial risk factors can impact the behavioral presentation of children at very young ages,” she said. Still, not all children who are exposed to maternal depression and intimate partner violence will develop ADHD, she noted.
“There are other factors that can be associated with a child’s higher likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD, including a family history of ADHD,” Bauer explained.
ADHD symptoms can include impulsiveness, hyperactivity and difficulty focusing. Kids with ADHD may have difficulty in school, holding down jobs and sustaining relationships. They are also at greater risk for alcohol or substance abuse, depression and anxiety disorders. Treatment typically involves medication and behavioral modifications.