Teenage girls with ADHD may be at greater risk of pregnancy than their unaffected peers, which suggests they may benefit from targeted interventions to prevent teen pregnancy.
A Swedish nationwide cohort study published inexamined data from 384,103 nulliparous women and girls who gave birth between 2007-2014, of whom, 6,410 (1.7%) had received treatment for ADHD.
While the overall rate of teenage births was 3%, the rate among women and girls with ADHD was 15.3%, which represents a greater than sixfold higher odds of giving birth below the age of 20 years (odds ratio, 6.23; 95% confidence interval, 5.80-6.68).
“Becoming a mother at such early age is associated with long-term adverse outcomes for both women and their children,” wrote, of the department of clinical neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and coauthors. “Consequently, our findings argue for an improvement in the standard of care for women and girls with ADHD, including active efforts to prevent teenage pregnancies and address comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions.”
The study also found women and girls with ADHD were significantly more likely to be underweight (OR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.12-1.49) or have a body mass index greater than 40 kg/m2 (OR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.60-2.52) when compared with those without ADHD.
They were also six times more likely to smoke, were nearly seven times more likely to continue smoking into their third trimester of pregnancy, and had a 20-fold higher odds of alcohol and substance use disorder. Among individuals who had been diagnosed with ADHD, 7.6% continued to use stimulant and nonstimulant ADHD medication during pregnancy, and 16.4% used antidepressants during pregnancy.
Psychiatric comorbidities were also significantly more common among individuals with ADHD in the year preceding pregnancy, compared with those without ADHD. The authors saw a 17-fold higher odds of receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, nearly 8-fold higher odds of a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder, and 22-fold higher odds of being diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder among women and girls with ADHD versus those without.
The authors commented that antenatal care should focus on trying to reduce such obstetric risk factors in these women, but also pointed out that ADHD in women and girls was still underdiagnosed and undertreated.
Commenting on the association between ADHD and teenage pregnancy, the authors noted that women and girls with ADHD may be less likely to receive adequate contraceptive counseling and less likely to access, respond to, and act on counseling. They may also experience more adverse effects from hormonal contraceptives.
While Swedish youth clinics enable easier and low-cost access to counseling and contraception, the authors called for greater collaboration between psychiatric care clinics and specialized youth clinics to provide adequate care for women and girls with ADHD.
Three authors declared advisory board positions, grants, personal fees, and speakers’ fees from the pharmaceutical sector. No other conflicts of interest were declared.
SOURCE: Skoglund C et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Oct 2.