Why Do Kids Have Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD)?
Is attention-deficit disorder (ADD) caused by genetics, as is often reported, or is it due to factors related to home environment, as another new study has indicated?
If the question on everyone’s lips right now in the ADD community is nature or nurture, the answer is: a little of both.
ADD is incredibly inheritable – it has the highest proportion of inheritance of any psychiatric disorder. And, new research shows that children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to come from a family affected by divorce and substance abuse.
However genes, though present, aren’t always on. We now know there is a reverse messenger ribonucleic acid (RNA) that turns on genes selectively. If you think of something that can take a long time to manifest – like mood disorders or the presence of attentional capacity – it makes sense that there are mechanisms that reply to body demands (like how adrenaline makes you sharp in a crisis situation).
ADD in Parents Can Cause Stress for Children
ADD in parents creates stress for many households. There is the stress that can manifest in the parental relationship – for instance it is known people with ADD are more likely to be divorced. Struggles between adults trickle down to stress for the children. Also, there may be a more direct stress for children in households with an ADD parent. Parents with ADD often struggle with consistency and the creation and implementation of a set of rules that are understood and routinely followed. Organization challenges are also often present in homes where a parent has ADD – and that can lead to more stress for everyone.
Children in Stressful Environments Have Greater Risk of ADD
But, by the same token, ADD prevalence among children has been shown to be higher among households that are extremely stressful (whether or not the parent has ADD). Some of these stressors include access to adequate health care, shelter, and healthy (and adequate amounts of) food including fresh fruits and vegetables. Many of the states with the highest ADD prevalence rates are also the states with the highest number of children living in poverty. Struggling with money, hunger, and access to basic needs is among the stressors that create symptoms of ADD in children.
The short of it is that it’s a two-way street in terms of children and ADD. There are causes both environmental and hereditary that are impacting children in our country. It should be our goal to ensure that all children receive access to the best care to meet their needs.
This article was written by:
Robert D. Hunt, M.D.is the founder and CEO of Hunt Psychiatric innovations. He is also a board Certified Adult, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist trained at Harvard University School of Medicine (General Psychiatry), University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco (Medical School); and UCLA (Child Psychiatry). Dr. Hunt was a research psychiatrist at the National Institutes of Mental Health, where he performed blood level studies of stimulant medications and neurobiological studies of ADHD. Follow Dr. Hunt on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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Author, G. (2014, August 1). Why Do Kids Have Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD)?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, May 9 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/yourmentalhealth/2014/08/why-kids-attention-deficit-disorder-add