a childThe nature-nurture debate has long been a consideration of scientists across most disciplines; how large are the roles of environment and genetics, respectively? Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School conducted a study to better understand environmental factors that contribute to attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD). They found that children in socioeconomically disadvantaged households were more likely to have ADHD than their relatively posh peers.

The researchers collected data via the Millennium Cohort Study, a longitudinal study that is tracking children born in the United Kingdom during the years 2000 through 2002. Data is gathered through surveys which have been administered when the children are nine months old, and the ages of three, five, seven, and 11. The team extracted statistics regarding the prevalence of ADHD, household income, and parental status.

The results show that, in the United Kingdom, there are more children with ADHD from families living below the poverty line than in the general population. The average family income for households with a child with ADHD was £324 per week ($530), while families with no ADHD children had an average weekly income of £391 ($640).

Parents were also relevant factors in the incidence rate of ADHD. Single parent households were more likely to have children with ADHD than households with two live-in parents. Young mothers had a significantly higher rate of having a child with ADHD and mothers with no degree were more than twice as likely to have a child with ADHD when compared to mothers with a degree.

“There is a genetic element to ADHD, but this study provides strong evidence that ADHD is also associated with a disadvantaged social and economic background … It’s important to discover more about the causes of this disorder so that we can look towards prevention, and so that we can target treatment and support effectively,” stated lead study author Dr. Ginny Russell, of the University of Exeter Medical School.

This research is published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

For examples of how iLs works with ADHD, please visit our case studies page.

Previous news in ADHD: