Maternal Thyroid Anomalies and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Progeny

Ran S. Rotem*, Gabriel Chodick, Michael Davidovitch, Andrea Bellavia, Marc G. Weisskopf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous epidemiologic investigations suggested that maternal thyroid anomalies are a possible causal factor in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in progeny, yet clinical trials indicated that levothyroxine treatment was ineffective in preventing neurodevelopmental impairments. We used an Israeli cohort of 385,542 singleton births from 1999-2012 to explore the interrelated roles of maternal thyroid conditions, laboratory gestational thyroid hormone measurements, use of thyroid medications, and offspring ADHD. Analyses were performed using Cox proportional hazards models. Results indicated that maternal hypothyroidism diagnosis was associated with an elevated progeny ADHD hazard (adjusted hazard ratio = 1.14, 95% confidence interval = 1.10, 1.18). However, this association was unmitigated by gestational use of levothyroxine and was unexplained by maternal gestational thyroid hormone levels. Associations with gestational thyrotropin values and hypothyroxinemia were also observed but were robust only in mothers without other records indicative of a thyroid problem. Results indicated that maternal thyroid hypofunction was associated with progeny ADHD but possibly not due to a direct causal relationship. Instead, maternal thyroid hypofunction may serve as a proxy indicator for other factors that affect neurodevelopment through thyroid hormone independent pathways, which are thus unaffected by pharmaceutical treatments for thyroid hypofunction. Factors known to disrupt thyroid functioning should be examined for their independent ADHD-related effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430-440
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • endocrine disruptors
  • hypothyroidism
  • levothyroxine
  • thyroid stimulating hormone
  • thyrotropin
  • thyroxine


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