Spain: mother’s diet modulates ADHD risk

09 May 2019

What a mother eats during pregnancy could affect her child’s risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), suggests new research.


A study looked at the balance of fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 reaching a fetus through the umbilical cord. A higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio was associated with a higher risk of ADHD symptoms at age seven.

Researchers analysed samples of umbilical cord plasma from 600 children in Spain alongside data from questionnaires completed by their mothers. 

Published in the Journal of Pediatrics, the paper points out that a balanced intake of these two fatty acids is important because omega-6 and omega-3 have opposing physiological functions: omega-6 promotes systemic pro-inflammatory states, while omega-3 promotes anti-inflammatory states. 

Jordi Júlvez, co-author of the study, said: ‘As the brain takes a long time to develop, it is particularly vulnerable to misprogramming. Alterations of this sort could therefore lead to neurodevelopmental disorders.’

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