What are the Risk Factors for ADD / ADHD?Genetics and heredity are major risk factors for ADHD, as ADHD tends to run in families. Approximately 40% to 50 % of children with ADHD also have a parent or close relative with the condition.
Brain abnormalities or structural differences have also been found in individuals with ADHD. Traumatic brain injury may result in symptoms similar to ADHD, but only a small percentage of children with ADHD have brain injuries.
Additional suspected risk factors include maternal use of cigarettes or alcohol during pregnancy which may affect brain development. Children who have been exposed to high levels of lead also may display ADHD symptoms.
Some studies have found a link between low parental education and ADHD. This may be related to the parents own difficulties in school, due to parental ADHD, resulting in parents dropping out of school early. It also further reinforces the genetic link to ADHD.
It has been suggested that refined sugars or food additives may increase the risk of ADHD. Nutrition and diet can affect mood and behavior, as well as brain development in early life. At this point in time, however, no conclusive evidence has been found to support that a change in diet significantly reduces ADHD symptoms. This issue remains an area of interest for researchers.
National Institute of Mental Health. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. 2006.