What are the risk factors and causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?



  • Environmental Agents: Studies have shown a possible correlation between the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy and risk for ADHD. High levels of lead in the bodies of young preschool children are another possible environmental cause of ADHD.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury: Children who have been in accidents that resulted in brain injury occasionally show some signs of behavior similar to that of ADHD, but only a small percentage of children with ADHD have been found to have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

  • Food Additives and Sugar: Some research suggests that attention disorders are caused by refined sugar or food additives, or that symptoms of ADHD are exacerbated by sugar or food additives. In 1982, the National Institutes of Health held a scientific consensus conference to discuss this issue. It was found that diet restrictions helped about 5 percent of children with ADHD.

  • Genetics and Hereditary Factors: ADHD hereditary factors appear to run in families. There are likely to be genetic influences to ADHD. Around 25 percent of close relatives in the families of ADHD children also have ADHD. Twin studies show there is a strong genetic influence to ADHD.

  • Brain abnormalities: Some ADHD studies have shown structural differences in the brains of ADHD patients.

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