Myths About ADHD Causes

Monday, February 13th, 2012

What are some causes of ADHD? Most researchers agree that ADHD is a neurologically-based disorder passed on through the genes.  Studies of twins, adopted children and their non-adopted brothers and sisters, and other family members of people with ADHD point to genetics as the likely cause.

One identical twin, for instance, has about 80 percent probability of having ADHD if the other twin has ADHD. A non-identical same-sex twin will only have between 20 and 40 percent probability.  Research also shows that parents, children, and siblings of people with ADHD are five times more likely to have ADHD than those who are not.  Finally, parents with ADHD have a better than fifty-fifty chance of having children who’ll have ADHD too.  “It runs in the blood” is an expression that may find truth in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Much research had been done that has mapped more precisely the genetic basis of people with ADHD.  Aided by imaging devices, for instance, researchers have found a connection between ADHD and variations in the chromosome that control receptor sites in the brain called “dopamine.” With the culprit likely identified, we can now probably take off our list the other suspects. The following are not ADHD causes.

Television:  It was once suspected that ADHD is a by-product of television.  It’s a known fact that TV producers target their programs to an audience with a 30-second attention span.  Served a daily diet of quick sound and visual bites, children soon develop a taste for instant everything, the reasoning goes.

Video Games:  Video games require hyperfocus, the very same thing that ADHD people have an abundance of.  Expose children to several hours of video games daily, and, pretty soon, you’d have an entire generation incapable of functioning without the adrenaline high of video arcade exciting sounds, graphics, and joy sticks. Like television, this too is incorrect.

Parenting:  In the past some people have blamed improper parenting for ADHD. Babies do not come into this world self-contained—they need some indispensable parental input:  hugs, kisses, words of endearment, all in addition to their basic need of food and care. In a world where oftentimes both parents work, some people suspected that parenting affected ADHD. However, no correlation between parenting and ADHD has been found.

Education: Closely associated with poor parenting styles is poor education style to which the child is exposed as soon as he or she is of school age.  In school, the child find himself in a classroom with thirty others, each with different personalities and different styles of learning, and the child is expected to conform.  Some people suspected that this predisposed some children to ADHD, but no scientific evidence has been found.

Sugar: For a while, diet was deemed a suspect.  Sugar was especially suspected, on the premise that sugar is what causes children to be hyperactive and impulsive. While sugar may increase energy levels, it has no known correlation with ADHD.