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21-11-2017 | Uitgave 7/2018

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 7/2018

A Meta-Analysis of the Association Between Birth Weight and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 7/2018
Allison M. Momany, Jaclyn M. Kamradt, Molly A. Nikolas
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10802-017-0371-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


A large body of work has investigated the association between birth weight and ADHD and has resulted in mixed findings with regard to the direction and magnitude of this association. Despite the vast amount of research on this topic, a comprehensive and systematic quantification of the association between birth weight and ADHD has yet to be undertaken. A meta-analysis of 88 unique studies (N = 4,645,482) was conducted to quantify the overall effect size of birth weight on ADHD symptoms. Several variables were examined as moderators that may contribute to systematic variation in effect sizes. Overall, birth weight was found to have a small, but significant, association with ADHD symptoms such that individuals born at lower birth weights manifested greater symptoms of ADHD (r = −0.15). Sample type, mean birth weight of the sample, geographic region, the informant of ADHD symptoms, ADHD symptom measurement method, and race were all found to contribute significantly to heterogeneity in effect sizes. Notably, several early life risk factors previously found to be associated with both ADHD and birth weight, gestational age and prenatal smoking exposure, were not found to contribute to heterogeneity in effect sizes. The findings of the current analyses align with the growing recognition that early life adversity contributes to neurodevelopmental difficulties, and the findings highlight the importance of a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the association between early life risk factors and adverse neurodevelopmental sequela, such as that observed in ADHD.

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