The results of a study suggest that the risk of a child developing symptoms of ADHD may be modulated by the mother’s diet during pregnancy. The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, analysed samples of umbilical cord plasma to quantify the levels of omega-6 and omega-3 that reach the fetus. The statistical analysis showed a higher omega-6:omega-3 ratio to be associated with a higher risk of ADHD symptoms at seven years of age.
The results showed that, at age seven years, the number of ADHD symptoms increased by 13% per each unit increase in the omega-6:omega-3 ratio in umbilical cord plasma. The study analysed the number of symptoms in the children who met the diagnostic criteria for ADHD (minimum six symptoms) and also in the children with a smaller number of ADHD symptoms. The ratio of the two fatty acids was associated with the number of ADHD symptoms present but not with diagnosis of the disorder.