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Meta-Analysis
. 2018 Oct;46(7):1409-1426.
doi: 10.1007/s10802-017-0371-9.

A Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Birth Weight and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Free PMC article
Meta-Analysis

A Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Birth Weight and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Allison M Momany et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

A large body of work has investigated the association between birth weight and ADHD and has resulted in mixed findings with regard to the direction and magnitude of this association. Despite the vast amount of research on this topic, a comprehensive and systematic quantification of the association between birth weight and ADHD has yet to be undertaken. A meta-analysis of 88 unique studies (N = 4,645,482) was conducted to quantify the overall effect size of birth weight on ADHD symptoms. Several variables were examined as moderators that may contribute to systematic variation in effect sizes. Overall, birth weight was found to have a small, but significant, association with ADHD symptoms such that individuals born at lower birth weights manifested greater symptoms of ADHD (r = -0.15). Sample type, mean birth weight of the sample, geographic region, the informant of ADHD symptoms, ADHD symptom measurement method, and race were all found to contribute significantly to heterogeneity in effect sizes. Notably, several early life risk factors previously found to be associated with both ADHD and birth weight, gestational age and prenatal smoking exposure, were not found to contribute to heterogeneity in effect sizes. The findings of the current analyses align with the growing recognition that early life adversity contributes to neurodevelopmental difficulties, and the findings highlight the importance of a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between early life risk factors and adverse neurodevelopmental sequela, such as that observed in ADHD.

Keywords: Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder; Birth weight; Developmental psychopathology; Meta-analysis; Perinatal risk factors.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Flow chart of studies excluded from current analyses.

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