Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below

Birth weight and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptoms in childhood and early adolescence: a prospective Swedish twin study.

Author information

Dr. Hultman is with the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Box 281, SE-171 77, Stockholm, Sweden.



To determine whether low birth weight increases the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood and early adolescence.


In a population-based sample of 1,480 twin pairs born in the period 1985-1986 ascertained from the Swedish Twin Registry, birth weight was collected prospectively through the Medical Birth Registry. ADHD symptoms were measured with a 14-item checklist covering DSM-III-R criteria (parental rating) at age 8 to 9 years and 13 to 14 years. We used both a dichotomous approach for birth weight (>400 g or 15% weight difference) and ADHD (eight or more symptoms) and continuous measures to investigate between- and within-twin pair effects.


Our results showed that low birth weight was a risk factor for symptoms of ADHD and the associations did not diminish when we controlled for genetic influence. The lighter twin in birth weight-discordant pairs had on average 13% higher ADHD symptom score at age 8 to 9 years (p = .006) and 12% higher ADHD score at age 13 to 14 years (p = .018) compared with the heavier twin. The genetic correlations suggest modest or no genetic overlap between birth weight and ADHD.


The hypothesis that low birth weight is associated with the development of ADHD symptoms was supported in this prospective twin study. Fetal growth restriction seems to represent a modest but fairly consistent environmental influence on the development of ADHD symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center