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AIMS—To analyse the
contribution of certain social, familial, prenatal, perinatal, and
developmental background factors in the pathogenesis of deficits in
attention, motor control, and perception (DAMP).
METHODS—A population based case-control study was carried out with 113 children aged 6 years, 62 diagnosed with DAMP and 51 controls without DAMP. The children's health and medical records were studied and their history with regard to background factors was taken at an interview with the mother using a standardised schedule. Familial factors, possible non-optimal factors during pregnancy (including smoking), developmental factors (including early language development), and medical and psychosocial data were scored in accordance with the reduced optimality method.
RESULTS—Low socioeconomic class was common in the group with DAMP. Familial language disorder and familial motor clumsiness were found at higher rates in the DAMP group. Neuropathogenic risk factors in utero were also more common in the children with DAMP. Maternal smoking during pregnancy appeared to be an important risk factor. Language problems were present in two thirds of the children with DAMP. Sleep problems and gastrointestinal disorders, but not atopy or otitis media, were significantly more common in the DAMP group.
CONCLUSIONS—Prenatal familial and neuropathogenic risk factors contribute to the development of DAMP. Primary prevention, such as improved maternal health care and early detection or treatment, or both, of associated language problems appear to be essential.