Psychiatric Disorders in Mothers of Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Population-Based Perspective

  • Kendra J. HomanEmail author
  • William J. Barbaresi
  • Michael W. Mellon
  • Amy L. Weaver
  • Jill M. Killian
  • Amanda R. Lucchetti
  • Slavica K. Katusic
Original Paper



The purpose of this study was to conduct a long-term, population-based, epidemiologic study of psychiatric disorders in mothers of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Subjects included mothers of 306 childhood incident cases of ADHD and mothers of 617 age/gender matched controls from a 1976–1982 birth cohort.


Compared to mothers of controls, mothers of children with ADHD were significantly more likely to be diagnosed prior to the child’s birth with a depressive disorder (adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 3.1; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.3–7.7), an adjustment disorder (aOR, 8.1; 95% CI, 1.7–39.5), or any psychiatric disorder (aOR, 2.5; 95% CI, 1.61–4.7) and were likewise significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a de novo (i.e., first diagnosed after the child’s birth) depressive disorder (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR), 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2–2.4), de novo adjustment disorder (aHR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.4–2.7), or any de novo psychiatric disorder (aHR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.4–2.2) during the 21 years after the child’s birth.


This study provides an opportunity to study the natural occurrence of psychiatric disorders in mothers of children with ADHD and suggests that the likelihood of having a child with ADHD is associated with maternal psychopathology both before and after the birth. This adds to existing knowledge of maternal psychopathology for children with ADHD and has implications for screening and monitoring. Future research is needed to clarify the role that both genetic and environmental risk factors play in the increased rates of psychopathology in mothers of children with ADHD.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder Psychiatric disorders Maternal psychopathology Birth cohort Epidemiology 



This work was supported by the Public Health Service of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland (HD29745 and AG034676) and the Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota. The authors are indebted to his generous contributions and mentorship of Robert C. Colligan, Ph.D. (RCC). Dr. Colligan worked for 30 years at the Mayo Clinic as the first child psychologist on the consulting staff in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology. After retiring in 1999, he continued to work as a research consultant with the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) for an additional 17 years. He acted as a research mentor to dozens of psychologists, psychiatrists, and pediatricians while at Mayo. This manuscript represents a small part of his legacy as he collaborated in the design and execution of this study, and revisions of multiple versions of this paper until his death in late 2016. The authors thank Ann VanOosten and Candice Klein for data collection and assistance in manuscript preparation. We would also like to thank Independent School District #535 for their cooperation and collaboration.

Author contributions

KJH collaborated in the design and execution of the study and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. WJB collaborated in the design and execution of the study and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. MWM collaborated in the design and execution of the study and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. ALW analyzed the data and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. JMK analyzed the data and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. ARL collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. SKK collaborated in the design and execution of the study and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Procedures for this study were approved by the Institutional Review Board of Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Informed consent

Informed consent was waived as this was a retrospective chart review study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Boston Children’s HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Mayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  5. 5.SSM Health Dean Medical GroupMadisonUSA

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