What causes ADHD in children?What causes ADHD in children?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are a lot of theories as to the increase of this new diagnosis, espeically in children. Some say it is caused by a change in diet, some say preservatives, and others say it is just today's lifestyle being so diffeent than before. One way or another, it is here.
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ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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As the previous responders indicated, ADHD's causes are still unknown but there are a lot of theories.  Scientists have noticed, through brain scanning, that there is less activity in the section of the brain that controls activity and attention in individuals who have ADHD. Heredity may play a hand in ADHD as well, as there is a higher incidence of ADHD in children of parents who have ADHD. Childhood exposure to toxins is another theory as to the cause of ADHD.  Exposure to toxins such as lead and PCB's have been linked to behavioral and developmental problems in children.

You can also look at ADHD from an evolutionary perspective.  Many people theorize that ADHD behaviors are a remnent of our survival skills from centuries of hunting and fighting.  Historically we needed to be hyper-alert and active to survive. We needed to be aware when something changed in our environment and ready to move at a moments notice. 

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Ironically, many of the behaviors that are used to identify and diagnose ADHD are the same behaviors noted in babies and toddlers when sleep deprived.

Inability to focus, extreme emotional responses (quick to anger, tears, or silliness) to stimulus, inability to self-entertain, repetitive motion (like the bobbing of a foot or tapping of a pencil), zoning out, etc.

It would be very interesting to see a study of patients who were prescribed "sleep" instead of Ritalin or Adderall or other stimulants.

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dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is poorly understood. It is a mental condition thought to arise from a neurotransmitter problem. The brain utilizes chemicals or neurotransmitters to transmit information across synapses. In ADHD, it appears the neurotransmitter serotonin is not produced in sufficient amounts. Serotonin helps us to listen and focus.

In children that are prescribed neurostimulants like amphetamines, serotonin levels increase. Some authors argue that an environmental component exists that may not necessarily cause ADHD but acts to exacerbate the symptoms. If children are psychologically neglected at home, this tends to make the symptoms and behaviors worse.

There is also a genetic component to ADHD. Children who show signs and symptoms of the disorder commonly have a biological parent who also shows manifestations of the condition.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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The cause of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is not entirely known but research has discovered some possible links.

ADHD could be caused by brain structure, functionality of certain chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and norepinephrine, and functionality in the parts of the brain that affect attention and impulse control.

Research has also suggested that smoking, using drugs, and/or drinking alcohol while pregnant increases the child's chances of developing ADHD. In addition, exposure to lead may have something to do with ADHD as well.

Many parents believe that foods with sugar and certain additives contribute to hyperactivity, but research has shown otherwise. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, restricted diets help only about 5% of children with ADHD.

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spark73 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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There is brain-based research that is suggesting ADHD is a dysfunction of the brain wave production, creating too much Delta and not enough Beta waves.  So essentially it would mean that the person with ADHD needs to fidget and continuously change gears in order to remain awake, self stimulation.  This explain why we prescribe stimulants to ADHD patients, to wake them up.  The research is showing that if the brain waves are retaught, using biofeedback/neurofeedback, the brain will actually increase the Beta waves and decrease the Delta wave.  The research has a long way to go but it is a move in the right direction of correcting the ADHD symptoms without medications.

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revolution | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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The cause of this ADHD (Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) might have been genetics, according to some reports, and it is seen in 70% of such cases.

Also, some scientists claimed that this disorder was quite common in pre-historic times amongst humans, so can be seen as an adaptive behavior so they would be quite proficient in tasks like hunting and rituals.

Furthermore, environmental factors play a big part in ADHD. Alcoholism and smoking tobacco during pregnancy affects the foetus, increasing the chance of getting this disorder.

Food too was seen to be a contributing factor towards ADHD, especially foods with artificial food colorings, food preservatives like sodium bezonate that causes hyperactivity among children, that risked ADHD.

Other social factors like family dysfunction, cases of neglect and abuse by parents, may cause symptoms of ADHD.

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tejaa | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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The subject of what causes ADHD in children is one that produces a great deal of spirited discussion. The truth is that despite the best efforts of researchers no one completely understands the cause of ADHD. That said, one can examine the current research and arrive at a solid conclusion as to the cause or causes. First, let's delve into two previously accepted ideas that do not cause ADHD.

*Brain damage/Brain injury: Research suggests that brains which are damaged by severe disease or trauma tend to produce inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. While it is true that brain trauma may cause ADHD like symptoms, it is not the cause.

*Bad parenting: It is easy to place the blame on the parents when their child shows ADHD symptoms as inattention and hyperactivity. While parents can take steps to lessen the impact of their child's ADHD they aren't the cause.

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