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Parental ADHD and ASD symptoms and contributions of psychosocial risk to childhood ADHD and ASD symptoms in children born very preterm



Examine maternal and paternal ADHD and ASD symptoms in relation to very preterm (VPT) and full-term (FT) children’s ADHD and ASD symptoms.

Study design

In this longitudinal study, maternal- and teacher-report of child ADHD and ASD symptoms were obtained for 119 children (VPT = 79, FT = 40) at age 5-years using the Conner’s Rating Scale-Revised (CRS-R) and Social Responsiveness Scale-2 (SRS-2). A biological parent completed self- and observer-report CRS-R and SRS-2, and measures of mood/affect, stress, and social support to assess psychosocial distress. Data were analyzed using mixed-effect models adjusted for covariates.


Child ADHD symptoms were associated with VPT birth, maternal distress, and maternal ADHD symptoms (p ≤ 0.02), and paternal ADHD symptoms (p < 0.001). Regarding ASD, VPT birth and parental ASD symptoms were associated with child ASD symptoms (p ≤ 0.009). Parental symptoms and birth group had no interaction.


VPT birth and parental psychopathology represent independent risks for ADHD and ASD.

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Study funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health (R01-HD057098, R01-MH113570, R01-MH113883, R01-DA046224, R34-DA050272, K02-NS089852, UL1-TR000448, K23-MH105179, K01-MH122735), Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Washington University (U54-HD087011), Office of Medical Student Research at Washington University (NIK T35 NHLBI Training Grant), Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation, The Dana Foundation, March of Dimes, The Child Neurology Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and A NARSAD Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. Study sponsors played no role in study design, data collection or analysis, writing of the report, or the decision to submit this paper for publication. We thank members of the Washington University Neonatal Developmental Research Group and the IDDRC at Washington University in St. Louis for study coordination and assistance with data collection. Thank you to the children and families involved with this study.

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Authors and Affiliations



HL Substantial contributions including: Formal analysis of data, writing and drafting initial manuscript, and review and editing of the manuscript. REL. Substantial contributions including: developing methodology of the study, supervision/oversight of the study, and data curation of the study, supervision of formal data analysis, and review and editing of the manuscript. TAS. Substantial contributions including: developing methodology of the study, data curation, and review and editing of the manuscript. CDS Substantial contributions including: conceptualization/design of study, developing methodology of the study, data curation, investigation, supervision/oversight of the study, funding acquisition, and review and editing of the manuscript. CER. Substantial contributions including: conceptualization/design of study, developing methodology of the study, data curation, investigation, supervision/oversight of the study, funding acquisition, supervision of formal analysis, and review and editing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cynthia E. Rogers.

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Liljenwall, H., Lean, R.E., Smyser, T.A. et al. Parental ADHD and ASD symptoms and contributions of psychosocial risk to childhood ADHD and ASD symptoms in children born very preterm. J Perinatol 43, 458–464 (2023).

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