Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 



Association of preterm birth with ADHD-like cognitive impairments and addition subtle impairments in attention and arousal malleability.
S-N James 1, A-S Rommel 1, C Cheung 1, G McLoughlin 1, D Brandeis 2, T Banaschewski 2, P Asherson 1, J Kuntsi 1

“We find impairments in cognition and brain function in preterm-born adolescents that are linked to increased ADHD symptoms, as well as further impairments, in lack of malleability in neurophysiological processes. Our findings indicate that such impairments extend at least to adolescence. Future studies should extend these investigations into adulthood.”


ADHD is a real, biological condition that’s caused by differences in the development of brain anatomy and wiring. It can run in families and can be linked to Prematurity. ADHD isn’t a problem of laziness or willpower. Children that have ADHD are reacting to internal factors that make it even harder to do simple things like; focus, pay attention, they have short term memory and organizational problems. These skills are known as Executive Thinking.

These skills all affect the child’s ability to function at school, at home, and in friendships.

What does it look like at primary school age?

  • Can’t follow directions, forgets to bring things home, loses things (short term memory problems, inattentive)
  • Grabs things doesn’t consider consequences (impulsive)
  • Gets really frustrated (emotional regulation & flexibility)
  • Needs to be reminded to stop and listen (short term memory)
  • Getting started on tasks can be difficult (organisational skills)
  • Gets up, fidgets, restless (hyperactive)
  • Loses focus (inattentive)

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“I can ask my son to go feed the dog and he walks into the kitchen and gets a drink. I tell him again because he actually forgot while walking to the kitchen. It may look like he is not listening to me but it in reality he forgot. I normally have to redirect him without making him feel bad. I see this consistently so I know it’s not disobedience it’s short term memory problems. If I come up to him and say it eye to eye this can help too.” - Andrea, Mum to Aiden


With treatment and sometimes a combination of medication, behaviour therapy, individual and family support, parents can help their children avoid or minimise the risks for negative outcomes. New skills and techniques can be learned to help outcomes be more positive. Coming to terms with a new diagnosis or some escalation in behaviour can often put us in a hopeless frame of thinking and its not hopeless. The future can be very bright for these kids with the right help and with the involvement of the school they attend.

If you have concerns for your child around ADHD behaviours, first see your GP who can refer you to a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Paediatrician or other supportive care professionals.

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, your health care professional will discuss treatments, which may include medications. It is helpful to hear about all the options and their success rate and side effects and make an informed decision with your child and health care professional.

Famous people with ADHD

Steven Spielberg
Richard Bronson
Walt Disney
Emma Watson
Dick Smith

Useful links:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,
it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” - Albert Einstein

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].