Causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The precise causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder remain undetermined, even though it ranks among the best-researched disorders in medicine. Some people still question the validity of ADHD.

What is Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a controversial condition typically associated with hyperactive or inattentive children. Because of its prevalence in the classroom, diagnosis and treatment often bring parents and children into conflict with school bureaucracies and state social agencies, either of which can be less than helpful.

It is estimated that 3-5% of children-approximately two million in the United States-have Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Thus, at least one child afflicted with this condition is likely to be found in a classroom of 25 to 30 students. Yet one researcher believes as many as 80% of the AD/HD cases may be undiagnosed. The condition often persists into adulthood.

ADHD was first described in 1845 by Dr. Heinrich Hoffman, a physician who wrote books on medicine and psychiatry and a poet who penned “The Story of Fidgety Philip,” an accurate description of a little boy who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Although there was no diagnostic test for Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the 1998 National Institute of Health Consensus Statement concludes, “There is evidence supporting the validity of the disorder.” However, the first biological diagnosis was announced in January 2005.

Causes of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

However, current research suggests a neurobiological basis for the condition. Inheritance appears to be a factor, also.

Thus, parents should not be quick to blame themselves for the occurrence of ADHD in their children.

Nevertheless, environmental factors may influence the severity of the disorder, especially the impairment a child may experience. Also, a few environmental factors have been suggested as causative agents.


Research evidence shows that twenty-five percent of the close relatives in the families of ADHD children also have ADHD; on the other hand, the rate is about f percent in the common population. Evidence of a strong genetic influence on Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has also been obtained from many twins’ studies.

Environmental Agents

Research evidence has shown a potential relationship between the use of cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy and the risk for ADHD in that pregnancy’s offspring. High levels of lead in young preschool children’s bodies can also be associated with a higher risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

There’s apparently little or no basis for the widespread belief that refined sugar or food additives cause or exacerbate attention disorders. Scientific studies have so far suggested at best that diet restrictions can help about 5 percent of children with ADHD, mostly young children with food allergies. However, studies have also proven that parents are likely to be more critical of children who have eaten sweets, often exaggerating their misbehavior.

An early theory that attention disorders were caused by brain injury has been largely debunked. After identifying the causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, it might be easy to make an effective treatment plan.

Important Recommended Book: Thriving with ADHD Workbook for Kids: 60 Fun Activities to Help Children Self-Regulate, Focus, and Succeed


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