INTRODUCTION: Maternal inflammation during pregnancy may affect early neurodevelopment in offspring as suggested by preclinical and register data. However, clinical evidence for risk of aberrant neurodevelopment later in childhood is scarce. In the population-based COPSAC2010 mother-child cohort, we investigated associations between maternal inflammation levels during pregnancy and the risk of a diagnosis of ADHD as well as the load of ADHD symptoms in the children at age 10.

METHODS: The COPSAC2010 cohort consists of 700 mother-child pairs followed prospectively since pregnancy week 24.Maternal high-sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP) level at week 24 of gestation was investigated in relation to child neurodevelopment by age 10 using logistic and linear regression models with extensive confounder adjustment, including socioeconomic status and maternal polygenic risk of ADHD. The children completed a comprehensive examination of neurodevelopment including categorical (i.e., diagnostic) and dimensional (i.e., symptom load) psychopathology using the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia Present and Lifetime Version (K-SADS-PL) and parental rated ADHD-Rating Scale (ADHD-RS).

RESULTS: A total of 604 (86 %) of the 700 children in the COPSAC2010 cohort participated in the COPSYCH visit at age 10. Sixty-five (10.8 %) fulfilled a research diagnosis of ADHD (16 girls and 49 boys). Higher maternal hs-CRP level in pregnancy at week 24 (median 5.4 mg/L) was significantly associated with increased risk for a diagnosis of ADHD, adjusted OR 1.40, 95 %CI (1.16-1.70), p = 0.001. Additionally, higher maternal hs-CRP was associated with increased ADHD symptom load in the entire cohort, reflected by ADHD-RS raw scores.

DISCUSSION: These clinical data demonstrated a robust association of prenatal maternal inflammation assessed by hs-CRP with a diagnosis of ADHD by age 10. Moreover, maternal inflammation was associated with ADHD symptom load in the complete cohort. Identifying inflammation as an important marker will provide a potential target for future increased awareness and prevention during pregnancy thereby ultimately improving neurodevelopmental outcomes in children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Pages (from-to)450-457
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • ADHD
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Inflammation
  • Prenatal exposures
  • Prevention


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