What Causes ADHD in children?
Scientists are not sure what causes ADHD, although many studies suggest that genes play a large role. Like many other illnesses, ADHD probably results from a combination of factors. In addition to genetics, researchers are looking at possible environmental factors, and are studying how brain injuries, nutrition, and the social environment might contribute to ADHD.
Genetic causes of ADHD.
Inherited from our parents, genes are the “blueprints” for who we are. Results from several international studies of twins show that ADHD often runs in families. Researchers are looking at several genes that may make people more likely to develop the disorder.2,3Knowing the genes involved may one day help researchers prevent the disorder before symptoms develop. Learning about specific genes could also lead to better treatments.
Children with ADHD who carry a particular version of a certain gene have thinner brain tissue in the areas of the brain associated with attention. This NIMH research showed that the difference was not permanent, however, and as children with this gene grew up, the brain developed to a normal level of thickness. Their ADHD symptoms also improved.4
Environmental causes of ADHD.
University studies suggest a potential link between cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy and ADHD in children.5,6 also, preschoolers who are exposed to high levels of lead, which can sometimes be found in plumbing fixtures or paint in old buildings, may have a higher risk of developing ADHD.7
Acquired ADHD caused by brain injuries.
Children or adults who have suffered a brain injury may show some behaviors similar to those of ADHD.
This is due to ADHD being caused by a reduced frontal lobe capacity. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain responsible for making good decisions and deciding which information to use to make a decision. Only a small percentage of children with ADHD have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Sugar and food additives don’t cause ADHD but can increase the severity of symptoms.
The idea that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes symptoms worse is popular, but more research discounts this theory than supports it. In one study, researchers gave children foods containing either sugar or a sugar substitute every other day. The children who received sugar showed no different behavior or learning capabilities than those who received the sugar substitute.8 Another study in which children were given higher than average amounts of sugar or sugar substitutes showed similar results.9
In another study, children who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were given the sugar substitute aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Although all the children got aspartame, half their mothers were told their children were given sugar, and the other half were told their children were given aspartame. The mothers who thought their children had gotten sugar rated them as more hyperactive than the other children and were more critical of their behavior, compared to mothers who thought their children received aspartame.10
Food additives and ADHD
Recent British research indicates a possible link between consumption of certain food additives like artificial colors or preservatives, and an increase in activity.11Research is under way to confirm the findings and to learn more about how food additives may affect hyperactivity.
We help children, teenagers and adults with ADHD at Focused Education, Perth.
The Founder of Focused Education has ADHD himself. He wanted to build a company that globally changes people’s perceptions of what ADHD is.
ADHD is not a scary word. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
Call us today to find out how we help children, teenagers, and adults cope with the negative symptoms of ADHD and begin to enjoy the advantages of ADHD.
CONTACT US TODAY BECAUSE WE CAN HELP YOUR CHILD