What Are the Causes of ADHD?

The symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often found in children lead many people to believe those particular kids aren’t disciplined, or that they are given too much control at home. Those same symptoms in adulthood can lead others to believe that person is lazy or unmotivated, and even immature.

Unfortunately, there are many myths associated with ADHD in all ages. This is usually because most people don’t take the time to learn the underlying causes of the disorder to begin with. ADHD is not about a lack of discipline in childhood or being lazy as an adult. It is a real disorder with real factors attached.

While most research suggests that ADHD is largely caused by genetics, there are more studies being done about possible external factors that could play a role in the disorder. Let’s take a look at some of these potential causes.

While more research needs to be done, a 2010 study in Pediatrics discovered a possible link between certain pesticides and this disorder in children. If you are concerned about this link, there are two easy ways to fight back against the risk: Either choose organic produce for you and your children (even when you are pregnant), or gently scrub any non-organic produce that may have residue from pesticides.

Pregnancy Choices

It’s common knowledge that the choices you make during pregnancy can have a lasting effect on your child. When it comes to ADHD, smoking and drinking have been linked to the disorder. In fact, children who have been prenatally exposed to tobacco or alcohol are nearly 2.5 times more likely to have ADHD than those who were not.


The most important factor to consider when looking at ADHD is genetics. There are multiple other myths and factors associated with the disorder. This includes everything from too much sugar, to too much time in front of the television. While many of these ‘myths’ are continuing to be studied, there simply isn’t enough evidence to showcase a strong correlation.

Genetics are the main cause of this disorder, as touched on earlier in this article. That means that it is passed on through the genes of parents, and not how they raise their child.

It has been shown that a child is more likely to have ADHD if a close relative has it, but more research needs to be done to determine which type of genes cause the disorder. As of now, it is believed that ADHD is caused by a missing gene or duplicated DNA segments.

Is It Possible to Prevent ADHD?

Because ADHD is mostly based on hereditary factors, it’s very unlikely that you can prevent it from happening. Until more research is done on external factors, there aren’t many ways in which to ‘protect’ your child from the disorder.

What is important is to recognize the symptoms for what they are. If someone in your family has the disorder and you notice your child showing similar symptoms, it’s a good idea to get an official diagnosis.

No matter the official cause of a child or adult’s disorder, getting it diagnosed quickly and recognizing that there is treatment available is the most important thing. Always be sure to stay up to date with the latest research being done on this disorder. The more studies and tests doctors and scientists are able to perform to determine a specific cause (or even a specific gene), the better treatment will become.

Marcy M. Caldwell, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment and assessment of adult ADHD Psychologist Philadelphia.