A Answers (13)
Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredNo one is entirely sure where attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) comes from. There are most likely multifactorial causes. Multiple studies have connected ADHD risk with family history; exposure to tobacco smoke, toxins, or lead; maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy; and low birthweight. However, there are many social factors that can cause a child to become more disruptive and exhibit ADHD-like symptoms. Higher levels of stress or anxiety stemming from events such as a parental divorce or teasing from other children can cause a child to "act out" at home or school and trigger a teacher to suspect ADHD.
Michael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredWhile we don't know the exact cause of ADHD, (the leading hypothesis is lack of pruning of connections in the infant and adolescent brain), we do know that relatives with it have a greater preponderance—that is it has some components of genetic predispositions. If your parent or sibling has ADHD, you have a 30 percent chance of having it too.
Scientists are also looking at other potential risk factors for ADHD like maternal smoking, drug use, and alcoholism, exposure to toxins like lead in the womb or food borne pesticides.
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
The causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are still not completely understood. The condition does seem to run in families and so is often thought to be inherited. Other factors, such as prenatal and childhood exposure to certain toxic substances like lead; brain injuries; smoking, drug, or alcohol use by expectant mothers; and low birth weight are also possible causes.
Edward Hallowell, Psychiatry, answered
People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) sometimes feel that they're to blame for their lack of focus or impulsivity. In this video, psychiatrist and ADHD expert Edward Hallowell, MD, discusses what's really at the root of this condition.
Susanna Visser, MS, Public Health, answered on behalf of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Scientists are studying cause(s) and risk factors in an effort to find better ways to manage and reduce the chances of a person having ADHD. The cause(s) and risk factors for ADHD are unknown, but current research shows that genetics plays an important role. Recent studies of twins link genes with ADHD. In addition to genetics, scientists are studying other possible causes and risk factors including:
- Brain injury
- Environmental exposures (e.g., lead)
- Alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark "CDC" is licensed under authority of the PHS.
The exact cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) isn't known. But it may run in families. Ongoing research is focused on finding the genes that cause a person to be likely to get ADHD.
A mother's use of cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs during pregnancy may increase the risk for ADHD. Also, exposure to lead may cause symptoms linked with ADHD.
Although many parents believe that foods with sugar and food additives make their children more hyperactive, these foods haven't been shown to cause ADHD.
© Healthwise, Incorporated.
The exact cause of ADHD remains unknown. Most of the causes have been reported to be dysfunction in the brain and nervous system.
- Altered brain function: Dopamine is a brain neurochemical necessary for proper function. Research has found that individuals with ADHD may have a deficiency of dopamine. Also, individuals with ADHD may have decreased blood flow to the brain.
- Thyroid disorders: Thyroid abnormalities have been associated with ADHD and other childhood psychiatric disorders.
- Head injuries: Head trauma in childhood may cause neurological problems leading to the development of ADHD.
- Drugs: Hyperactivity may be caused by high or repeated doses of caffeine or stimulants.
- Genetics: People with family histories of ADHD have an increased risk of developing this disorder. This is because genetics has been linked to many cases of ADHD. Scientists are studying several genes that may be involved in ADHD.
Because people with ADHD generally have lower levels of the brain chemical dopamine, researchers are interested in learning more about the genes involved in dopamine regulation. Strong evidence suggests that the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene is involved in ADHD. A specific variation in this gene may increase a person's risk of developing ADHD by 13-19%. In a meta-analysis, researchers found that some variations dramatically increased the risk of ADHD, while other variants may have a protective effect. Other research suggests that variants of the dopamine D5 receptor (DRD5) gene may significantly increase the risk of ADHD. Yet, one variation of DRD5 may help prevent ADHD.
Researchers are also studying the dopamine transporter (DAT1, also known as SLC6A3) gene mainly because it provides instructions for making the dopamine transporter protein. This protein binds to dopamine, removing it from the tiny space between nerve cells (called the synaptic cleft) and deposits it to nearby cells. Some variations in the DAT1 gene have been linked to ADHD, although evidence of this association is not as strong as the DRD4 and DRD5 genes.
You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.
Intermountain Healthcare answeredAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects the brain's executive function system. The executive function system plays a key role in controlling behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Weaknesses in executive function can make it difficult to control one's emotions, start and finish tasks, organize items, use long-term memory, solve problems, and work toward a goal.
While there are many theories, scientists don't know exactly what causes ADHD. It's important for parents to know that ADHD is not caused by child-rearing methods or the family environment. Scientists do know that ADHD runs in families—many people with ADHD have a parent or other relative with the disorder. Symptoms of ADHD are also seen in patients who have had brain injuries.
Lara Honos-Webb, PhD, Psychology, answeredYou have probably been told that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is first a disorder, and second a medical dysfunction related to brain pathology (a dysfunction or disease of the brain). Current explanations highlight the importance of neuropsychological deficits (a psychological problem attributed to faulty brain functioning) and brain anomalies. Though many brain regions, such as the frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens, have been implicated in the causing of ADHD, it remains true that "unlike illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, or epilepsy, there is no physiological or pathological evidence for ADHD. The diagnosis is entirely subjective and is based on how we interpret a collection of symptomatic behaviors." Thus, even though the brain likely contributes to the symptoms of ADHD, a specific causal link and clear method of biological assessment have yet to be found.
Find out more about this book:The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child's Problems into Strengths
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children is a syndrome of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. According to DSM-IV, there are 3 types of ADHD, predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive –impulsive, and combine. The predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type occurs 2 to 9 times more in boys, but the predominantly inattentive type occurs with equal frequency in both boys and girls. ADHD is classified as a developmental disorder and is considered a disruptive behavior disorder. It is estimated that 3 to 10% of school agers are affected by ADHD. ADHD has no known single or specific cause. Possible causes include genetic, bio-chemical, sensorimotor, physiologic, and behavioral factors. Risk factors includes but not limited to, head trauma, birth weight less than 1000g, lead exposure, prenatal exposure to alcohol, cocaine and tobacco.
One of the first questions a parent will ask me is “What did I do wrong? Did I cause this?” There is no evidence that ADHD is caused by lapses in child rearing, reactions to vaccines, or giving in to countless requests for sugar-loaded cookies. I tell parents to forget their inner blame game and focus on finding the best possible way to help their child. Let researchers try to discover the cause for ADHD. And they’re trying hard. Scientists believe genetic and environmental factors may play a role, and studies show that many children with ADHD have a close relative who also has the disorder. Experts also know that kids with ADHD have chemical changes in their brain and that certain areas of the brain are about 5 to 10 percent smaller in size and activity than normal.
Other studies about the cause of ADHD point to links with smoking during pregnancy, premature delivery, very low birth weight, and injuries to the brain at birth. Some research suggests a link between excessive early TV watching and attention issues. (That’s one of the reasons the AAP says that children under two should not have any screen time, that means no computers, TV, DVDs, or video games, and that kids two and older should watch no more than one to two hours a day of nonviolent, quality TV.)
From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.
Find out more about this book:The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents
Donna Hill Howes, RN, Administrator, answeredAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is largely a brain issue. ADHD tends to be genetic in nature. Parents and their children, siblings and their cousins -- all relatives with ADHD, in fact -- may bond over these behaviors with each other. Scientists are also studying other causes of ADHD.
Sometimes, situations during childhood or problems of pregnancy make people more likely to develop ADHD. These include:
- maternal smoking, drug use, and drinking
- exposure to toxins in the womb
- exposure to lead during childhood
Discovery Health answered
Despite extensive research, scientists still do not know what causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Researchers, however, have ruled out some causes-such as a child's surrounding and upbringing.
Environmental factors may make a case of ADHD more pronounced, but do not cause the disorder.
Research has shown refined sugars and food additives have little or no effect on behavior.
There does seem to be a strong hereditary component to ADHD, and it is believed that prenatal exposure to alcohol and cigarettes may worsen the condition.