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Diet During Pregnancy To Affect ADHD In Kids?

Update Date: Aug 19, 2016 01:33 PM EDT

An unhealthy diet during pregnancy could lead to the child's risk of Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), according to a new study.

Researchers have found that a high - sugar and high - fat diet can affect the gene named IGF2, which helps in the fetal development of brains regions linked to ADHD, reported Web MD.

"These results suggest that promoting a healthy prenatal diet may ultimately lower ADHD symptoms and conduct problems in children," said senior researcher Edward Barker, director of the developmental psychopathology lab at King's College London.

However, Barker mentioned that the study shows only an association, not a direct cause and effect. Barker also went on to say that the study does not suggest that a mother's diet will cause ADHD, but it can be one of the causes associated with it.

Previously, animal research has shown that a mother's diet during pregnancy can change the actions of genes important for neural development. However, very little is known about the influence of diet on the human brain.

To investigate the influence, Barker and his colleagues compare 83 British children aged 7 to 13 with behavioral problems against 81 well - behaved children. According to the team, conduct problems went hand to hand with ADHD problem.

Additionally, pregnant mothers were also filled out a questionnaire regarding their diets. Researchers then assessed whether the IGF2 gene in their children had experienced DNA methylation, using blood samples from the umbilical cord or from the child at birth.

The researchers found that poor prenatal nutrition was associated with higher IGF2 methylation in children with conduct problems.

However, according to Dr. Ruth Milanaik, director of the neonatal neurodevelopmental follow-up program at Cohen Children's Medical Center, New Hyde Park, N.Y, there's more than one way to interpret the findings, and the food is not to be blamed for that.

Smoking, drugs or alcohol intake by the mother might also cause ADHD in children. However, both Barker and Milaniak agreed that a healthy diet during pregnancy is important for proper fetal development.

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