Background: Preterm survivors from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are considered to be at risk for some neurobehavioral disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The current study aimed to explore the relationship between ADHD and premature infants in Taiwan.
Methods: A total of 195 children (157 males and 38 females) diagnosed with ADHD based on DSM-IV and aged between 6 to 12 years and a control group of 212 (164 males, 48 females) age- and sex-matched healthy children were enrolled. The ADHD-Rating scale and CGI severity were performed by child psychiatrists. Demographic data of the children, including birth history, perinatal neurological and respiratory problems were collected to facilitate the investigation of whether a correlation exists between ADHD and prematurity.
Results: The ADHD group had a significantly higher rate of prematurity and significantly higher rate of low birth body weight (defined as <2500 g) than the control group (both P=0.003). Pearson correlation showed a significantly negative correlation between gestational age and ADHD-RS score, inattentive score, hyperactivity and CGI-S score (P=0.004, 0.013, 0.015 and 0.002, respectively). However, only a CGI-S score (P=0.018) showed a significantly correlation between low birth weight and ADHD.
Conclusions: Premature infants have significantly more severe symptoms of ADHD at school age and they were highly correlated. Further study is necessary to determine the main effect and pathogenesis of moderate as well as extreme preterm birth on the development of ADHD.