The impact of maternal prenatal complications on verbal fluency measures in children with ADHD: an empirical study

The impact of maternal prenatal complications on verbal fluency measures in children with ADHD: an empirical study

Paula Karina Perez, PsyD.1, Isaac Tourgeman, PhD.2


Objective. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been linked to prenatal conditions and history of maternal pregnancy problems. While research has also shown a trend of reduced semantic fluency performance in children with ADHD, pediatric fluency studies are limited. The present study sought to evaluate whether maternal pregnancy problems are associated with impaired performance on measures of verbal fluency, including phonetic, semantic and category switching in children diagnosed with ADHD.
Methods. Thirty-Four culturally diverse patients between 8 to 18 years of age received a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation at the pediatric neuropsychology and rehabilitation department of a major public South Florida Hospital between 2009 and 2017. A MANCOVA was conducted with pregnancy problems as the factor, performance on verbal fluency measures as the dependent variable, and age, ethnicity, gender and education as covariates.
Results. In category fluency and category switching the without pregnancy complication group performed better when compared to the with pregnancy complications group. There were not significant differences between groups in letter verbal fluency.
Conclusions. The preliminary results were commensurate with current literature identifying semantic fluency and category switching as areas of verbal executive dysfunction in a pediatric population with ADHD. Moreover, results demonstrated clinically significant relevance for subjects in a diverse clinical sample with comorbid prenatal maternal conditions related to their performance on semantic fluency and category switching. Further research with a larger sample is recommended.

1 Rusk Rehabilitation at New York University Langone Health, New York, USA
2 Department of Psychology. Albizu University, Miami, USA

Corresponding author:
Paula Karina Perez, PsyD.
New York University Langone Health Rusk Rehabilitation
Phone: +1 (305) 336-6950
E mail:

Key words:

verbal fluency, pregnancy problems, ADHD, executive control, verbal ability.

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