October 30th, 2018

// Is ADHD Connected to Maternal Cholesterol Levels?

Is ADHD Connected to Maternal Cholesterol Levels?

During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes a massive transformation in pretty much all aspects – from physical to emotional, and sometimes even mental. One of the changes that happen in a woman’s body is the change in her cholesterol levels. The cholesterol levels increase to make steroid hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone that are crucial for carrying a healthy pregnancy to term. Typically, women’s cholesterol levels increase by 25% to 50% during pregnancy, while HDL levels rise even more.

Where Do Recent Studies Stand?

Lately, there’s been much talk about the link between ADHD (attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder) in children and maternal cholesterol levels, with girls being less susceptible to the effect than boys. What makes this research different than the previously conducted ones, is that this one is focused on children, while prior ones mostly focused on adults’ cholesterol and brain functions. The finding that suboptimal maternal cholesterol levels may increase the risk of ADHD is almost a breakthrough in the conclusions of this type. What is more, scientists explain that this is true for low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in particular.

What Else Makes This Finding Special?

Even though this research is still in its beginning stages and needs additional investigation, it “raises new hypotheses about ADHD gender differences and future targets to prevent the disorder.” Researchers based their testing on data from the Boston Birth Cohort. The cohort was followed from birth up to age 15 and mostly comprises of low income, urban, and minorities.  The final analyses rounded up 1479 mother-infant pairs: 1176 neurotypical children, and 303 children with ADHD.

Judging by the results, an increased risk of ADHD associated with low maternal HDL cholesterol level (≤60 mg/dL), compared to a higher maternal HDL cholesterol level.

What Role Did Gender Play?

The research included both girls and boys, hoping to establish which gender (if any) was affected more. As reported, and based on the associations with ADHD for maternal HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, it appears that boys were more affected and vulnerable to suboptimal maternal cholesterol levels. The finding is believed to have shed new light on the ADHD sex difference.

Are There Any Implications To These Findings?

Researchers explain that there might be several implications:

  • Women with a child typically maintain a higher level of HDL cholesterol
  • Popular clinical cut-off point for HDL cholesterol (>50 mg/dL) for women who are not with a child aren’t necessarily adequate for protecting against ADHD in offspring
  • A higher cut-off point is believed to be a better option when identifying the fetus at risk for future ADHD

What Were The Limitations of the Study?

As reported, there were a few limitations:

  • The study based on a single measurement of non-fasting maternal cholesterol
  • The measure was taken 24 to 72 hours after delivery suggesting that lipid levels would be more optimal when collected throughout the entire pregnancy
  • The analyses could not capture all risk factors of ADHD as it focused on the population of low-income, urban, mostly minorities only; the study observed that this target group is at a higher risk of exposure to other ADHD risk factors

Keeping your cholesterol levels in check is a must for all pregnant and non-pregnant women. Consult with your physician on taking supplements, such as Cholesterade®, you should take.


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