ADHD, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is on the rise. ADHD is diagnosed in 3 to 7 percent of school-aged children, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the most diagnosed childhood mental health problem, identifying causes and treatment of ADHD is imperative. Here is the most up-to-date list of potential causes of ADHD.
1. Food Dyes: The FDA is reviewing evidence that suggests artificial food dyes may exacerbate attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in kids that have the condition. The only role of these food dyes is to make foods look more appealing, so it should be pretty easy to remove them if the FDA finds adequate evidence that they are indeed harmful to children.
2. Western Diet: A recent study suggests that diet may play a role, as it indicated that teenagers with ADHD were more likely to consume a so-called “Western-style” diet. The Western pattern was characterized by a high intake of total fat, saturated fat, sugar, sodium and a low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and folate. Common parts of their diets included take-out, sweets, red and processed meats, refined grains, full-fat dairy and soda The researchers found that the adolescents who consumed the Western diet were 2.2 times more likely to have ADHD than their counterparts who consumed a healthy diet.
3. Smoking and Lead Exposure: A first-of-its-kind national study has found that pre-birth exposure to cigarette smoke and high levels of lead in children can be linked to higher rates of ADHD in youth. Children who were exposed to both prenatal smoke and registered high lead levels had a greater than eightfold increase in the likelihood of having ADHD.
4. Pesticides: New research suggests there may be a link between children with measurable breakdown products of organophosphates (the most commonly used type of pesticide) in their system and ADHD.
5. Genetics: New research coming out of Cardiff University in Wales is suggesting that chromosomal defects are responsible for ADHD. The study also suggests that those subjects presenting with a mental disability like autism or schizophrenia were twice as likely to also have ADHD.
Most of the 4.4 percent of the adults in the United States who suffer from ADHD use medication to help them get by, but a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that adding cognitive behavior therapy may reap more benefits.