Most children are rambunctious, playful, and inattentive. They find it hard to sit still for an extended period of time, and they don’t always listen or follow directions. It’s part of being a child. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) goes far beyond the typical childhood behavior. If your child has ADHD, they’re inability to sit still, pay attention, think before acting and follow directions so disrupts their life (and the lives of those around them) that they can’t function normally. ADHD makes it almost impossible for the child to achieve goals and causes serious behavioral problems.
Why do some children suffer from ADHD while others do not? There are certain risk factors that greatly increase the probability that a child will develop ADHD. While researchers are still investigating the exact causes, the following factors appear to have an influence on whether or not a child will experience ADHD:
The Gender Connection
Boys are three times more likely to develop ADHD than girls. This has long been a source of debate. Some argue that boys are simply more likely to receive a diagnosis of ADHD because of societal views. It is often assumed that boys are naturally more aggressive, more likely to experience behavioral problems, and more likely to have an issue with impulse control.
Research does show a definite gender link, though. The male sex hormone testosterone is likely the culprit. Testosterone is linked to many of the behaviors inherent in children with ADHD. More research is needed, however, to figure out exactly why boys are at greater risk.
The Environment and Heredity
Another major risk factor for ADHD is parental education level. The less education a parent has, the more likely their child will develop ADHD. The exact reasons for this are unclear. The link could be genetic. The parent’s low education level could be due to their own struggles with undiagnosed ADHD, suggesting a genetic component to the disorder.
The link could also be environmental. Being raised by parents with less education could lead to a lack of intellectual support for the child. The ADHD might be a learned behavior. It’s that age-old “nature vs. nurture” debate. Most likely, ADHD’s origins are linked to both factors.
The Biological Connection
Studies have shown a link between smoking and/or alcohol consumption during pregnancy and ADHD. If a child’s mother ingested certain toxins while pregnant, these toxins could affect brain chemistry and trigger changes in the brain that would lead to ADHD. Children who have been exposed to large amounts of lead also show a greater risk of experiencing ADHD symptoms or developing other learning disorders.
Whatever the cause, there is help available for children suffering from ADHD. Therapy can help you learn how to overcome the behavioral problems associated with ADHD, and there are medications designed to deal with the biological factors. It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider about possible treatment options.