2017 has been a busy year for research when it comes to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The following are summaries of 10 interesting findings about ADHD.
6 Million visits for ADHD by U.S. kids each year A family health survey found that children with ADHD go to more than six million doctor visits each year. The majority of these recorded visits were with pediatricians or family doctors, not psychiatrists. A lack of access to mental health professionals, especially in rural areas, could explain why many families rely on pediatricians to diagnose and treat ADHD.
Problems with attention, not autism, predispose children to injury Some studies have indicated that children with autism are at an increased risk of suffering injuries; however, a study completed at the Colorado School of Public Health found that children with autism are not more likely than children without autism to sustain injuries. It is attentional problems, like those associated with ADHD, that cause an increased risk of injury.
Could the ‘Mediterranean’ diet help prevent ADHD? The Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits and vegetables, might help prevent ADHD according to a study completed in Spain. Researchers found the incidence of ADHD was lower for those who adhered to the traditional Mediterranean diet.
Study: Brain differences found in children with ADHD Some people characterize ADHD as a “fake” condition, partly because there are no laboratory tests that confirm whether someone has ADHD. But researchers found at least five regions of the brain with structural differences in people with ADHD indicating it is “a disorder of the brain” and not caused by poor parenting or used as an arbitrary label for children who misbehave.
Memantine could amplify effect of stimulant for adult ADHD Adding the medication memantine to ADHD treatment may improve emotional regulation according to a study completed at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Memantine is used to treat confusion and dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. According to the researchers, when memantine was added to stimulant medication treatment, the participants showed improved executive functioning, especially in emotional self-regulation.
Autoimmune disease linked to ADHD A study completed in Denmark found that children with mothers who had a history of autoimmune disorders were more likely to have ADHD. The risk was most likely in families with a maternal history of type 1 diabetes.
Higher ADHD risk seen in children with migraine Children with migraine headaches were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than those without migraine. Those who had tension headaches did not have an increased risk of ADHD.
Could micronutrient supplements combat ADHD? Researchers found that children with ADHD who were given micronutrient supplements experienced improvement in ADHD symptoms, including attention and emotional regulation. Hyperactivity and impulsivity did not seem to be affected by the nutrients.
Can adults develop ADHD? Probably not, researchers say In recent years, adults have been diagnosed with ADHD. Some have been told they have “adult onset” ADHD. Researchers looked at 239 adults who had been diagnosed with ADHD. Of those that did have ADHD, symptoms could be traced back to childhood. Others had symptoms similar to ADHD but that were caused by other conditions, such as psychological trauma, depression or long-term marijuana use.
Brain imaging reveals ADHD as a collection of different disorders Researchers found several subtypes of ADHD, each having the brain function in different ways. The researchers looked specifically at impulsivity and found that there were different cognitive reasons for the behavior. The researchers hypothesize that ADHD is a collection of different disorders and that future research might provide a more targeted approach.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.