Teenage Parenthood and Birth Rates for Individuals With and Without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Nationwide Cohort Study

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2017 Jul;56(7):578-584.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2017.05.003. Epub 2017 May 11.


Objective: Prior studies have established that attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with risky sexual behavior, but it remains unknown whether individuals with ADHD also are more likely to become parents while being teenagers. This aspect is clinically relevant because teenage parenthood is associated with adverse outcomes for parents and children. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to investigate whether individuals with ADHD would be more likely to become teenage parents compared with individuals without ADHD.

Method: This is a historical prospective cohort study based on nationwide data from Danish registers. The cohort consisted of all individuals (N = 2,698,052) born in Denmark from January 1, 1960 through December 31, 2001. The association between ADHD (n = 27,479 cases) and parenthood (first child) in age intervals of 12 to 16, 17 to 19, 20 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 34, 35 to 39, and 40 years and above was investigated by Poisson regression and expressed as incidence rate ratios (IRRs) with accompanying 95% CIs. IRRs can be interpreted as relative risks.

Results: Compared with individuals without ADHD, those with ADHD were significantly more likely to become parents at 12 to 16 years of age (IRR for females 3.62, 95% CI 2.14-6.13; IRR for males 2.30, 95% CI 1.27-4.17) and at 17 to 19 years of age (IRR for females 1.94, 95% CI 1.62-2.33; IRR for males 2.27, 95% CI 1.90-2.70).

Conclusion: Individuals with ADHD are significantly more likely to become teenage parents compared with individuals without ADHD. Therefore, it might be appropriate to target this group with an intervention program that includes sexual education and contraceptive counseling.

Keywords: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; birth rate; parenthood.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology*
  • Birth Rate*
  • Child
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult