Millions of families are dealing with their child’s ADHD diagnosis, with about 60 percent of cases continuing into adulthood, according to the National Resource Center on ADHD. Since ADHD is better understood today than 20 years ago, some portion of that 4 percent of adults living with ADHD may have received a diagnosis as adults. Once your physician has confirmed the symptoms you or your child is experiencing, you’ll probably want to understand the causes of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Getting to the root of ADHD. After the diagnosis of ADHD, most parents look to themselves. Some parents may ask questions like, “What did I do to cause this? or “Am I a bad parent?” Adults with ADHD often blame themselves for having this disorder. The truth is, adult and pediatric ADHD is caused by many factors, and usually it has nothing to do with personal or parental fault. ADHD probably has a genetic component that can be exacerbated by certain environmental factors, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some suspected causes of ADHD include genetics, brain differences, toxins and others. Here's a closer look at those factors.
Inherited genetic trait. The Mayo Clinic states ADHD occurs in families. Studies have located genes that may be responsible for the ADHD tendency. More studies are being performed.
Brain and anatomy differences. In trying to uncover the mystery that is ADHD, brain scans of people with ADHD have been performed. In evaluating these scans, some interesting commonalities were noticed. Brain scans of people with ADHD show a difference in brain activity and brain structure. The Mayo Clinic cites one difference as less activity in the part of the brain that, not surprisingly, manages self-control and attention.
Early exposure to toxins. Children who were exposed to toxins at an early age may have an increased risk of ADHD. Lead (that is found in pipes of old buildings and old paint) is one of the suspected toxins and may be a component in the development of ADHD characteristics like disruptive behavior, violent behavior and a short attention span.
Smoking, drug use and toxin exposure during pregnancy. Drugs and alcohol abuse during fetal development is linked to reduced activity in the neurons that create neurotransmitters. Toxin exposure increases the risk of having a child with ADHD. The Mayo Clinic reports that women who smoke when they are pregnant also increase the risk of having a child with ADHD.
Artificial food additives. Color, flavor enhancers and preservatives that are used in food manufacturing may contribute to hyperactivity in children, according to the Mayo Clinic.