Scientists have found evidence of a link between social and economic status and childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the UK.
A team led by the University of Exeter Medical School analysed data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a database of more than 19,500 UK children born between 2000 and 2002.
The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, found that more children with ADHD came from families below the poverty line than from the UK population as a whole. Average family incomes for households whose child was affected by ADHD was found in those studied to be £324 per week, compared to £391 for those whose child was not affected by the condition. The study found that parents in social housing were roughly three times more likely to have a child with ADHD than those who owned their own homes.
The team also found that younger mothers were significantly more likely to have a child with ADHD than other mothers. Mothers with no qualifications were more than twice as likely to have a child with ADHD than those with degrees, and lone parents were more likely to have a child with ADHD diagnosis than households with two live-in parents.
Information was gathered from surveys when the cohort children were nine months old, and at the ages of three, five, seven and 11.
Dr Ginny Russell, who led the study, said: “There is a genetic element to ADHD, but this study provides strong evidence that ADHD is also associated with a disadvantaged social and economic background.”
The Millennium Cohort Study has been tracking more than 19,000 UK children through their early childhood and plans to follow them into adulthood. It covers such diverse topics as parenting, childcare, school choice, child behaviour and cognitive development, child and parental health, parents’ employment and education, income, housing, and neighbourhood.