Study: Low vitamin D levels in pregnancy linked to ADHD

The first national study on the link between the disorder and vitamin D was conducted in Turku.

A Turku University study found a deficiency of vitamin D in Finnish populations, too. Image: Yle, Tero Kyllönen

A new study by researchers at the University of Turku has found that children whose mothers had a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy were 34 percent more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

This is the first nationwide study to investigate the relationship between ADHD and the presence of vitamin D in the bloodstream of women in early or mid-stage pregnancy.

"A vitamin D deficiency can affect the likelihood of illness along with genetics, smoking and social factors," said PhD researcher Minna Sucksdorff from the Turku child psychiatry unit.

The study analysed the health of 1,067 children diagnosed with ADHD in 1998-1999 and children from a control group of the same size.

A global problem

Vitamin D deficiency is a problem affecting people all over the world, in spite of daily dosage recommendations.

"This is the strongest evidence yet that prenatal vitamin D levels are related to concentration disorders," said study lead, professor Andre Sourander.

ADHD is one of the most common long-term children's disorders. The paper's abstract stated (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the finding "may have significant public health implications" if replicated independently.

The Turku University study is part of a broader programme investigating the link between pre-natal health and ADHD. Its goal is to produce data to help identify the disorder earlier and develop preventative treatments.