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What Causes ADHD?


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has different origins, and yes, ADHD is a real thing…we get that question a lot… As for causes, we do know that it is very heritable, that is, close relatives are much more likely to have the disorder.

If a parent has ADHD, then their children are 6 to 8 times more likely to have it.

Brothers or sisters of a child with ADHD are 3 to 5 times more likely to have it.

The dad’s of children with ADHD are 5 to 6 times more likely to have it, while their mothers are 3 to 4 times more likely.

If one identical twin has ADHD, there’s upwards of a 90% chance that the other twin will also have ADHD.

The largest proportion of ADHD cases are inherited, and it seems to be poly-genetic, meaning multiple genes play a role. The exact roles are unknown.

However, not all ADHD is inherited. Other causes are related to neurological development (may also be partially genetic), environmental factors that may include prenatal health (also may be partially genetic taking into account the interaction between genes and environment).

There doesn’t seem to be any solid evidence that  parenting causes ADHD, however, parenting practices can greatly influence behavioral outcomes of a child who has ADHD.

There doesn’t seem to be any solid research that supports dietary substances as a cause either. Sure, there are individual cases where some kids are more sensitive to certain dietary substances, such as food dyes or preservatives, but in general, these things don’t appear to cause ADHD.

Playing video games and watching TV doesn’t seem to cause ADHD either; however, excessive use can still be problematic for maintaining attention, and it may just be the case that kids with ADHD tend to play video games and watch TV more because the pace of action helps those kids to focus better on those media.

In another post, we’ll talk more about other common problems and disorders that may mimic ADHD.

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