The rise of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was found to be 34% higher in children whose mother had a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy than in children whose mother’s vitamin D level was sufficient during the first and second trimesters in a recent study. The result was adjusted for maternal age, socioeconomic status, and psychiatric history.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Turku, is the first population-level research to demonstrate an association between low maternal vitamin D level in early to mid-pregnancy and an elevated risk for diagnosed ADHD in the offspring.

The study included 1067 children born between 1998 and 1999 diagnosed with ADHD in Finland and the same number of matched controls. The data were collected before the current national recommendation in Finland for the intake of vitamin D during pregnancy, which is 10 micrograms per day throughout the year.

According to professor Andre Sourander, despite the recommendations, vitamin D deficiency is still a global problem. “This research offers strong evidence that a low level of vitamin D during pregnancy is related to attention deficiency in offspring. As ADHD is 1 of the most common chronic diseases in children, the results have a great significance for public health,” Sourander said.

The study is part of a larger research project that aims to discover the connections between the mother’s health during pregnancy and ADHD in offspring. The goal is to produce information for developing preventative treatments and measures for identifying children with ADHD risk.

  1. Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy Connected to Elevated Risk of ADHD [news release]. University of Turku website. Published February 10, 2020. Accessed March 3, 2020.