…or are we what our mothers ate?
A diet high in fat and sugar during pregnancy may be linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children with behavioural problems early in life, experts have found.
The research, led by scientists from King’s College London (KCL) and the University of Bristol, is believed to be the first to indicate that an unhealthy diet alters the baby’s DNA in a way that might lead to brain changes and later ADHD.
ADHD and conduct problems are the most common reasons for child mental health referral in the UK and tend to occur in tandem. More than 40% of children with a diagnosis of behavioural problems also have a diagnosis of ADHD.
Hmmm, now, I know correlation ain’t causation, but still. It might well explain the proliferation of the ‘ADHD Badge’ so prevalent in chav areas.
Co-author Dr Edward Barker, from the department of psychology at KCL, stressed that parents with children with ADHD should not blame themselves because diet was just one factor, albeit a potentially significant one.
“ADHD/conduct problems are very complex psychiatric problems, they are multi-determined,” he said.
“Diet could be an important but it’s going to be important alongside a host of other risks. A sensible diet can improve symptoms but it’s not a single causal agent.”
There are ailternative options, of course.
Dr Max Davie, the mental health lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the hypothesis applied to a fairly small subset of children.
“It may be that the mothers with a worse diet are more impulsive by nature, and hence find it hard to resist unhealthy options, and this inherited tendency is, at least in part, responsible for the presence of ADHD symptoms in their children,” he said.
Hmmm, so which came first, the ADHD chicken or the impulsive egg?