Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, affects approximately 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts have a range of theories that help explain why ADHD develops and what the risk factors are for this condition.
While the behavioral aspects of ADHD have led many to believe that the disorder is caused by a chaotic home life, a lack of discipline or an excess of electronic media, experts believe that the condition is primarily a genetic disorder, with some contributing environmental factors.
When it comes to genetics, the condition is typically passed along among family members. Adults with ADHD have a 50 percent chance of having a child with the condition. And those who have an older sibling who has been diagnosed with ADHD are 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed than those without a family history.
While scientists still don’t know exactly why this occurs, they have found differences in the way that brain chemicals called neurotransmitters work in those with ADHD, as well as smaller neural pathways, compared to those who do not have this condition.
Risk factors for developing ADHD include cigarette smoking or the use of drugs or alcohol during pregnancy; environmental toxin exposure during pregnancy; and lead exposure during the early childhood years. Other problems during pregnancy, such as a low birth weight, are also linked to a higher risk for ADHD. For unknown reasons, ADHD is more common among males than among females.
Research published in 2010 in the journal Pediatrics suggests a link between pesticide exposure and the development of ADHD. While more research is necessary to definitively prove this connection, pregnant women and young children should primarily consume organic fruits and veggies that have not been treated with pesticides to limit this risk.
Other studies have linked the prevalence of ADHD to certain food additives, including artificial food coloring and a preservative called sodium benzoate. If you’re concerned about hyperactive behavior in your child, limiting these ingredients may have a positive behavioral effect. However, there is no evidence to support the popular myth that hyperactive behavior is caused by eating sugary foods.
If you’re concerned that your child may be exhibiting the signs of ADHD, talk with our experts at Cady Wellness Institute in Newburgh, IN. In most cases, behavioral therapy can manage the symptoms of this condition without medication. However, we offer a variety of treatment options. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office.