Background: Analyzing health conditions and medical utilization of mothers of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can shed light on biologic, environmental, and psychosocial factors relating to ADHD.
Objective: To examine health conditions, health care utilization, and costs of mothers of children with ADHD in periods before the child was diagnosed.
Methods: Using automated data from Northern California Kaiser Permanente we identified mothers of children with ADHD, mothers of children without ADHD, and mothers of children with asthma. Mothers' diagnostic clusters, health care utilization, and costs were compared. Mothers of children with ADHD were compared with mothers of children without ADHD and, separately, to mothers of children with asthma.
Results: Compared with mothers of children without ADHD, mothers of children with ADHD were more likely to be diagnosed with numerous medical and mental health problems in the 2 years after birth of their child, including depression [odds ratio (OR): 1.88], anxiety neuroses (OR: 1.64), obesity (OR: 1.70), and musculoskeletal symptoms (OR: 1.51). Results were similar for the year before delivery. Mothers of children with ADHD also had higher total health care costs per person in the year before ($1003) and the 2 years after ($953) the birth of their child. Mothers of children with ADHD also were diagnosed with more health conditions and had higher health care costs than mothers of children with asthma.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the likelihood of being diagnosed with ADHD is related to maternal conditions and use of health services that precede the child's diagnosis. Future studies are needed to clarify whether this is due to biologic, psychosocial, or environmental factors, or a combination.