ADHD and pregnancy

In comparison to women who did not take ADHD medication during early pregnancy, the study found that women who took ADHD medication during early pregnancy were more likely to have a baby with certain types of birth abnormalities. This is one of the first studies to look at the use of ADHD medications by pregnant women and the risk of birth abnormalities.

In the United States, it is estimated that 4.4 percent of adults suffer with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (1). It's linked to a higher risk of poor physical and mental health, substance abuse, poor work performance, and financial hardship . Approximately half of adults who have ADHD as a child still have the illness and its consequences as adults . There is a growing recognition that girls with ADHD are more likely than boys to develop the illness later in life. Biederman et al. studied a group of girls over the course of a decade and found that the majority of them are still affected by ADHD, with roughly one-third meeting full criteria for the disease, another third meeting partial criteria, and 10% suffering reduced functioning. A diagnosis of ADHD is linked to an increased risk of mood, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders in the future

Pregnancy Considerations

There have been no comprehensive research that have looked at the course of ADHD throughout pregnancy and after delivery. Because of hormonal changes or other causes, the perinatal period may have an impact on the course of ADHD. It's possible that when they focus more on a life transition to motherhood, women get more distracted from other areas. Pregnancy has an impact on treatment decisions, as many women choose to stop using stimulants during pregnancy and breastfeeding in order to avoid pharmaceutical exposure. The effect of treatment decisions on occupational functioning, interpersonal connections, the progression of concomitant illnesses, and quality of life is little understood.

During pregnancy, neurocognition, memory, and executive function are all affected.

It's debatable whether women's neurocognitive abilities change throughout pregnancy. Pregnancy has been shown to negatively affect neurocognitive abilities, including memory, and pregnant women are more likely than nonpregnant women to rate their memory as impaired . Indeed, it is widely believed that there is a "pregnancy brain" disease that causes memory loss during pregnancy, with the theory being that changes in sex hormone production cause cognition to deteriorate . We don't have any studies on pregnant women with ADHD, although there have been some minor animal and human studies from which to draw. Some studies imply that reduced neurocognitive functioning occurs during pregnancy, although the evidence is mixed, and no definite link has been established between changes in any hormone and cognition during pregnancy. For example, participants in a study of 19 pregnant women scored better on verbal memory tasks after birth than they did two months prior. Although higher amounts of progesterone were linked to a higher likelihood of negative mood states, no link was observed between sex hormones and cognitive ability. In another study, investigators revealed worse verbal memory and processing speed ratings for pregnant and postpartum women as compared to nonpregnant comparator women (N=21) during the third trimester and postpartum. During pregnancy, prolactin levels were linked to verbal memory and executive function scores, but estrogen and cortisol were negatively linked to attention scores in the postpartum period. The onset of such abnormalities differs by study (e.g., throughout pregnancy, only in late pregnancy), as does whether or not such findings are carried over into the postpartum period . According to a meta-analysis , study outcomes have been mixed, and there may be deficits on some specific neurocognitive memory tests, particularly those that rely on executive functioning, in both pregnant and postpartum women.