No one is sure what causes Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However, many scientists believe that genes play a role. Results from copious studies suggest that the gene for ADHD runs in families.
Some learners with ADHD carry a gene that causes thinner brain tissue in the areas associated with attention. However, this difference is not permanent. As children with this gene grow up, the brain develops to a normal level of thickness. Their symptoms also improve. Research on this gene could help scientists to one day understand what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is on a genetic level.
In addition to genes, scientists are also researching an array of possible environmental factors that could cause ADHD. Some factors include, brain injuries, nutrition, and even one’s social environment.
Other possible causes
- Environmental factors: Some studies suggest that certain environmental factors could add to the possibility of ADHD. For example, there seems to be a potential link between cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy that may increase the likelihood of children being born with ADHD. Lead exposure can also cause ADHD. Plumbing fixtures and paints in older buildings sometimes contain lead.
- Brain injuries: Young children who have suffered from a brain injury have been known to exhibit behaviours similar to those of ADHD. However, it is important to note that this, like the above, is just one theory of many and only a small amount of ADHD learners have suffered from a brain injury.
- Food additives: Recent British research shows a potential link between ingesting of certain food additives like artificial colours or preservatives, and an increase in activity. Research on the validity of this theory is under way.
Does Sugar Cause ADHD?
The idea that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes symptoms worse is popular. However, more research discounts this theory than supports it. In one study, researchers gave learners food containing either sugar or a sugar substitute every other day. The learners who received sugar showed no different behaviour or learning capabilities than those who received the sugar substitute. In another study, learners who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were given the sugar substitute aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Although all the learners got aspartame, half their mothers were told their children were given sugar, and the other half were told their learners were given aspartame. The mothers who thought their learner had received sugar considered them more hyperactive than other learners. They were also more critical of their behaviour.
Similar results show how easy it can be to misdiagnose or over-diagnose perceived “problems” of learner behaviour. We, as parents, tutors, and educators might forget what it was like to be young and no longer be familiar with as high levels of energy. However, please note that many matters and theories related to ADHD are, just theories.
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