My daughter, now 16, was diagnosed years ago with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). She is now a Junior, and her high school years have been difficult, to say the least. So, I was taken aback to think that I now might have something new to worry about. A just-published Swedish study has found that girls with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are six times more likely to wind up as teenage moms!
The researchers apparently found that the impulsiveness and disorganization associated with ADHD seem to make girls with the disorder more likely to become pregnant, said lead researcher Charlotte Skoglund, a clinical neuroscientist with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
“Clearly, the standard of care in girls and women with ADHD should include active efforts to prevent teenage pregnancies in order to reduce long-term adverse consequences for both women and their children,” Skoglund said.
The new study supports prior research that came to similar conclusions, said Dr. Eugene Arnold, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Ohio State University. Arnold cited another recent study that found that both boys and girls with ADHD tend to have earlier sexual experiences than those without the disorder.
“It’s not only what you would expect, but it’s what’s already established pretty well,” Arnold said. “The symptoms of ADHD set a girl up for early pregnancy.”
The new study involved more than 384,000 Swedish women and girls between the ages of 12 and 50 who gave birth between 2007 and 2014. Of those women, about 6,400 had been diagnosed with ADHD.
Teenage births were over six times more likely among women and girls with ADHD, researchers found. Females with ADHD also were more likely to have risk factors that could harm their pregnancy, including smoking during the third trimester (6.8 times as likely), morbid obesity (two times as likely) and alcohol or drug abuse (20 times as likely).
People with ADHD have trouble keeping their lives organized, which means girls are more likely to forget to carry around condoms or take their birth control pills daily, Arnold explained. They are also more likely to be impulsive and take risks in their daily lives, Arnold and Skoglund said.
The researchers concluded that parents, and even counselors and other emotional health professionals, may fail to take into account the underlying difficulties of ADHD that can make teenage sex even more risky for girls with ADHD.
This all means that when you have a daughter with ADHD, among all the other modifications you need to make to your lifestyle, and extra help you need to give her when it comes time for “that talk,” you need to make sure they are paying attention!