Gestational Diabetes

Weight Gain, Diabetes During Gestation Associated With Increased ADHD Risk in Offspring

Women with pregestational obesity and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have a high risk of giving birth to children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a recent study.

A cohort study was conducted that evaluated single births greater than 22 weeks of gestation by women with GDM between 1991 and 2008. Excessive weight gain in the participants was defined as a gestational weight gain above the National Academy of Medicine recommendations. For the study, 1036 children were included with a median follow-up of 17.7 years.

Of the total, 135 children (13%) were diagnosed with ADHD. The researchers found that maternal obesity was associated with ADHD (HR 1.66; 95% CI, 1.07 - 2.60]), but not maternal overweight or excessive weight gain. Additionally, ADHD rates according to pregestational maternal weight were 7.1% (n = 1 of 14) for underweight, 11.4% (n = 62 of 546) for normal weight, 14.2% (n = 40 of 281) for overweight, and 16.4% (n = 32 of 195) for obesity.

Furthermore, maternal obesity with excessive weight gain was associated with the highest risk of a child developing ADHD vs a woman with a normal weight without excessive weight gain (HR 2.13; 95% CI, 1.14 - 4.01]). Pregestational obesity without excessive weight gain had no association to a child being diagnosed with ADHD (HR 1.36; 95% CI, 0.78 - 2.36]).

“Among GDM pregnancies, pregestational obesity was associated with a higher risk of ADHD in offspring. Nonetheless, when gestational weight gain was taken into account, only the joint association of obesity and EWG remained significant,” the researchers concluded.


—Jessica Ganga


Perea V, Simo-Servat A, Quiros C, et al. Role of excessive weight gain during gestation in the risk of ADHD in offspring of women with gestational diabetes. J Clin Endocr. Published online September 8, 2022. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgac483