mom and babyBy Robert Locke MBE

Forgive the strange title because mothers talk to their babies all the time! But do they?  How many parents are guilty of plonking their child in front of a screen and relying on electronic babysitting?

How many times have you seen a mother getting on the bus and whipping out her mobile to chat or text with friends while the baby in the stroller is left to his or her own devices. So maybe mothers are not talking so much to their children anymore.

What is the connection with ADHD?

What has this got to do with ADHD? Well, one ADHD study carried out by researchers at the University of Glasgow seems to suggest that parenting or lack of it may have a much greater impact in the early years.  Researchers on the project watched hundreds of videos of mothers interacting with their babies.

What is their conclusion?  Their research suggests that the more the mother talks to her baby the less likely that baby is to develop behavioral problems or ADHD later on. Any lack of communication seems to raise the likelihood of the child developing emotional problems.

That is quite a claim and suggests that poor parenting in the early years may have more of a bearing than once was thought.  After all, most studies say that the condition seems to be largely genetic.  In addition this is just one ADHD study and there are no others to support it.

How the research was done

But let us look at what went on at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Glasgow University.  They analyzed several hundred videos of mothers talking to their one year old babies and selected 180 videos to fine tune their research.

Even if there was a reduction in the number of sounds or words, say 5 per minute, this seemed to raise the child’s chances of developing ADHD by about 44%. Researchers are keen to point out that mothers do not need to talk all the time to their babies but that vocalizations are a protective shield to help prevent these conditions such as attention deficit and conduct disorders developing later on. It is a sort of immunization.

The genetic connection

Another researcher from the University of Aberdeen, Prof. Philip Wilson, has been speculating about the genetic connection and is convinced that it is a combination of the two factors. Lots of communication may well protect the child but the genetic variant is always there.

I know of one mother who wrote protesting about this research after it was published in a Scottish newspaper and who has 6 children who all have ADHD. She is convinced that it was the hereditary trait that determined their condition and that it had nothing at all to do with the amount of communication from the parents. In fact she gave them loads of support and interaction and even home schooled them.

It will be interesting if there are other ADHD studies in this area which will be able to determine whether this is a valid argument. In any case, it might be no harm to give some advice for the ADHD parent to put away their phones for a while and start cooing at their baby instead. Now, when was the last time you did that?

About the Author:

Robert Locke MBE, is an award winning author and has written extensively on ADHD and related child health problems. You can visit his blog on problem kids and ADHD natural treatment to find out more.

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