What are some risk factors for ADHD?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Primary risk factors for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) include having a family history of the disorder and being exposed to harmful substances early in life. There is a strong genetic tendency toward ADHD. The condition sometimes affects siblings and children of those with the disorder.

However, we do not know whether there is a specific cause of ADHD or whether a combination of factors set off the condition. One of the possible risk factors for ADHD is exposure to toxins during pregnancy. Fetuses exposed to certain toxic chemicals, cigarette smoke, alcohol, and drugs in the womb appear to be at a greater risk of developing the symptoms of ADHD. These toxins continue to negatively affect children as they grow. Lead exposure in early childhood is also linked to symptoms of ADHD. In addition, babies born prematurely may face an increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

The single biggest risk factor for ADHD is heredity. 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% 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.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.