European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 685–693 | Cite as

Parental socioeconomic position and risk of ADHD in offspring: a cohort study of 9648 individuals in Denmark 1976–2013

  • Emilie Rune HegelundEmail author
  • Trine Flensborg-Madsen
  • Ditte Vassard
  • Janni Niclasen
  • Erik Lykke Mortensen
Original Contribution


The strength of the association between parental socioeconomic position (SEP) and risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring is found to vary substantially, perhaps due to the negligence of possible changes in parental life course SEP. The present study investigated the association between parental SEP in adulthood and risk of ADHD diagnosis in offspring and whether parental childhood SEP modified this association. The study population included 9648 live-born singletons followed in the Psychiatric Central Register from birth in 1976–1996 until 2013. Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios for ADHD diagnosis according to parental SEP in adulthood. The results showed that low parental SEP in adulthood was associated with higher risk of ADHD diagnosis in offspring, also after adjustment for possible confounders. Thus, offspring of parents with low SEP in adulthood had 4.52 (95% CI 2.81–7.26) times higher hazard of ADHD diagnosis compared with offspring of parents with high SEP in adulthood. Further, parental childhood SEP was found to modify the observed association. Thus, offspring of parents with downward social mobility from childhood to adulthood and offspring of parents with stable low SEP experienced the highest risk of ADHD diagnosis, followed by offspring of parents with upward social mobility, compared with offspring of parents with stable high SEP. The results suggest that it is important to take into account the possibility of social mobility as changes in parental life course SEP from childhood to adulthood seem to influence the risk of ADHD diagnosis in offspring.


ADHD Socioeconomic factors Cohort studies Denmark 



The study was funded by a grant from Simon Spies Fonden (Grant number 002413) and a grant from Aase og Ejnar Danielsens Fond (Grant number 10-001151) to Janni Niclasen. Further, the study was funded by the Escher Family Fund (Grant number 96554) and Autism Speaks (Grant number 8428X).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emilie Rune Hegelund
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Trine Flensborg-Madsen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ditte Vassard
    • 2
  • Janni Niclasen
    • 1
  • Erik Lykke Mortensen
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Public HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark
  3. 3.Center for Healthy AgingUniversity of Copenhagen, Faculty of Health and Medical SciencesCopenhagen NDenmark

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