TUESDAY, Aug. 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Children with early-term birth have increased hyperactivity scores and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) scores, according to a study published online Aug. 5 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Geethanjali Lingasubramanian, M.D., from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues estimated the associations between gestational age (GA) and teacher-reported ADHD-related symptom patterns at age 9 years in a secondary analysis involving about 1,400 children in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study born at term (37 to 41 weeks). Teachers evaluated their students at age 9 years using the Conners Teacher Rating Scale-Revised Short Form that included subscales for symptoms of hyperactivity, ADHD, oppositional behavior, and cognitive problems/inattention.

The researchers found that each week of GA at term was associated with lower hyperactivity scores and ADHD and cognitive problems/inattention scores (adjusted incidence rate ratios, 0.94, 0.95, and 0.95, respectively). Increased hyperactivity scores and ADHD scores were seen in association with early-term birth (37 to 38 weeks) compared with birth at 39 to 41 weeks (adjusted incidence rate ratios, 1.23 and 1.17, respectively), and there was also an increase observed in the odds of scoring 1.5+ standard deviations above the sample mean for hyperactivity (adjusted odds ratio, 1.51). No significant associations were seen between GA and oppositional behavior scores.

“The findings from this study highlight the importance of longer gestation and add to mounting evidence based on neonatal, developmental, and educational outcomes that early elective deliveries (<39 weeks) should be avoided,” the authors write.

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