Young mothers have greater risk of children with autism

06 December 2019

Age at first birth is ‘strongly associated’ with a greater chance of having a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to new research.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, used the data of 220,685 women from the UK Biobank to explore the genetic relationship between female reproductive traits, such as age of first sexual intercourse and age at first birth, and six psychiatric disorders, including ADHD and autism.

Researchers from the University of South Australia found that the genetic risk of ADHD in children was strongly associated with early maternal age at first birth, particularly for women younger than 20.

Associate professor Hong Lee said: ‘By understanding the links between becoming a mother at a young age and having a child with ADHD, we’re able to better educate and support families sooner.’

He stressed it was also ‘important to understand that while there is a clear genetic link between ADHD and young mothers, this is not necessarily a causal relationship’.

Image credit | iStock