Genetics vs. parenting: experts debate ADHD and heredity

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is becoming more common in children. Moreover, there are two problems: scientists say that in many cases this disorder is not diagnosed, and there are still cases when parents (or others) are sure that the child is sick in the absence of ADHD or, conversely, is simply poorly brought up. Can parenting cause ADHD? Experts are cautious about the fact that the true causes of the syndrome are not as simple as they seem. Let’s figure it out together!

First, remember how ADHD manifests itself

ADHD is one of the most common developmental disorders diagnosed in children today. These neurodevelopmental disorders are associated with how the brain grows and develops.

Children with ADHD find it difficult to concentrate, and this often makes it difficult for them to control their behavior. There is a desire, an impulse for action – and the child immediately seeks to fulfill his plan, without evaluating what will turn out as a result.

The letter “G” in the diagnosis means hyperactivity, excessive activity of the child. There are forms of ADHD without hyperactivity – more often in girls, which further complicates the diagnosis 

Symptoms of ADHD in adulthood include difficulty following instructions and inability to complete tasks on time.

While the symptoms are well understood, the causes of ADHD are not entirely clear. Is it genetics, environmental influences, or a combination? Or is all this not enough, and is there something else?

Because the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – inattention, impulsivity, and / or hyperactivity – affect a child’s ability to learn and get along with others, some think that a child with ADHD’s behavior is caused by a lack of discipline, a chaotic family life, or even an excess of sweets or watching TV.

In fact, research shows that ADHD is largely a genetic disorder.

However, some environmental factors can also play a role.

A 2010 pediatric study found that children with increased levels of organophosphates in urine, pesticides used in foods, had a higher severity of ADHD.

Another study found that women with elevated urine levels of organophosphates are more likely to give birth to children with this diagnosis.

Research suggests a possible link, but cannot prove that pesticides alone cause ADHD. However, experts advise you to thoroughly peel and process fruits and vegetables before eating, and it is better, of course, to grow it yourself or buy from trusted suppliers.

“Gene ADHD”

All experts today agree that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with or without is a gene expression problem. Moreover, the tendency to ADHD is inherited in families – at least 80% of cases are family disorders.

If a parent has ADHD, the chances of their child also having difficulty concentrating are 20 to 25 percent. However, scientists still do not know exactly which gene is causing the disorder.

Could something else cause ADHD besides genes?

Although doctors understand that ADHD “works” in families, they are not sure if there is something else that might also affect the risk of developing the syndrome. But there are versions that increase the likelihood of ADHD.

Lead, a heavy metal and neurotoxin, is found in increased amounts in the blood of children with ADHD. It has the ability to damage the developing nerve tissues of the brain and thereby influence the behavior and cognitive skills of children.

However, it is not entirely clear why the amount of lead in children with such a diagnosis is increased and what is the root cause. Perhaps due to the initial presence of genetic mutations, their bodies accumulate heavy metals faster and are less efficient at excreting them.

Other possible risk factors include brain injury and early strokes in children, low birth weight, and preterm birth.

The connection between mother smoking during pregnancy and ADHD is precisely indicated – which can be explained by the accumulation and penetration of combustion products and the same heavy metals through the placenta: tobacco smoke contains lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, polonium and other elements of the periodic table that are not useful for health.  

If smoking is accompanied by alcohol intake, the child’s risk of ADHD increases dramatically.

But the widely suspected ADHD food coloring and excess sugar turned out to be nothing to do with it. Very few children with ADHD actually respond to the most suspicious dye, sodium benzoate. And the myth about sugar and hyperactivity has long been refuted!  

And what about education?

In fact, any parent of a child with confirmed ADHD knows that the syndrome is primary, and raising children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has to be much more careful – even just to protect them from frequent injuries.

However, there are a number of factors that, although they do not cause this syndrome, worsen its course. According to research, among the most significant are too much TV viewing, low income, “family chaos” (conflicting parenting). All this causes stress in any child, and children with ADHD are the most sensitive to it. To watching TV and various video games, too: such a child is inclined to “stick”, develop dependence on flickering visual stimuli.  

When it comes to computer games, there is no evidence that gambling addiction can cause ADHD, rather the opposite.
And there is also an interesting fact: ADHD is treated with computer games! Recently, the official agency of the US Department of Health approved the results of clinical studies, and now doctors can prescribe the game Endeavor RX to children with attention deficit disorder.  

Therefore, experts consider families where parents have ADHD and, accordingly, a higher probability of “family chaos” as more risky for the pronounced course of the syndrome in a child. That is, such an environment can exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD, become an additional “hereditary factor”. But one cannot blame the parenting style for the fact that such a violation has appeared at all.

At the same time, a non-professional may confuse exceptional pampering and permissiveness with symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But it is up to doctors, not biased relatives or tired teachers, to decide whether there is a diagnosis. 

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