Danish research: ADHD increases the chance of teenage parenthood

Young people with ADHD need to be offered better guidance, says expert

According to a new research project from Aarhus University, youngsters with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) are twice as likely to become teenage parents as their peers who don’t have the disorder.

The big Danish study is the first of its kind, although previous studies have shown that ADHD is associated with sexual risk behaviour – which involves early sexual activity, more sexual partners and a greater tendency for having unprotected sex.

“It’s completely new knowledge that is very important. We know from other studies that becoming a parent as a teenager is connected to a heightened risk for a number of other negative consequences – for the young parents and their children,” Søren Dinesen Østergaard, an associate professor at the Department for Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University and the lead author of the new study, told Videnskab.dk.

“The impulsivity [a dominating ADHD symptom] means that people think less of the consequences of doing something – such as sex. Inattention [another dominant symptom] can result in people simply forgetting protection.”

READ MORE: Explosion in adult Danes on ADHD medication

Better support needed
The study concluded  it might be appropriate to target this group with an intervention program that includes sexual education and contraceptive counselling – an analysis that Peter Hove Thomsen, a professor of child and youth psychiatry at Aarhus University, concurred with.

“We need to get better at offering guidance about sexuality and protection to young people with ADHD,” Thomsen told Videnskab.dk.

“During treatment we need to be more aware of the risk of too early pregnancies.”

The study (read more about it here in English) is based on data taken from young people aged 12-19 from the Danish national health registry.