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ADHD Causes: Genetics

Although there is no one single cause for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, the medical community agrees that it is a biological condition brought about by a deficiency in neurotransmitters - the brain chemicals responsible for relaying messages between brain cells.  As such, doctors usually prescribe medications that stimulate the production of neurotransmitters and momentarily lead to improved concentration, focus, and behavior. Although several studies demonstrate that genetics play a role in the development of ADHD, we do not believe that genetics is the sole cause of the problem or that medication is the only option to treat the disorder.  From our perspective, ADHD occurs when a complex set of environmental forces interact with a genetic makeup that makes a person predisposed to the condition.

Where does the genetic predisposition come from? 

Studies reveal that, in most cases, a child with ADHD is more likely to have one more family member diagnosed with the disorder. Look back into your childhood and try to remember any instances where you had great difficulty paying attention or staying still, or ask your spouse if he or she has ever experienced uncontrollable hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. If one or both parents have ADHD, their children are more likely to have inherited it.  In fact, at least one third of fathers who had ADHD in their childhood have children with the disorder.  The link between genetics and ADHD was further strengthened by twin studies that showed that if one twin has ADHD, the disorder is more likely to be present in an identical twin than a fraternal twin, even if the twins have been raised in different home environments.

What is inherited from the "ADHD gene"? 

Researchers have discovered that children with certain genetic combinations have thinner brain tissues in parts of the brain associated with attention. This means that parts of the brains of children with ADHD develop more slowly than brains of “normal” children.  A child might be eight years old, but areas of his brain function at the level of a six-year-old. However, this particular difference is not permanent; when children with this genetic combination grow up, their brains attain a normal thickness level and most symptoms of the disorder subside. Despite the many breakthroughs achieved by the Human Genome Project, and the discovery that several genes are associated with a higher risk of developing ADHD, scientists have yet to identify a single “ADHD gene” that gets passed on to make an individual predisposed to the disorder.  In fact, it is highly unlikely that such a single "ADHD gene" exists.

My child may have inherited ADHD from me or my spouse. Is there anything that can be done?

Before you start thinking that medication is your child's only recourse to overcoming ADHD, pause for a minute. The genetic cause of ADHD only predisposes your child to the disorder. This means that the disorder won’t set in unless your child is exposed to certain environmental factors that will trigger the condition.   Some of these environmental factors include a diet of junk food, lack of essential vitamins and minerals, lack of exercise, and exposure to certain toxins.   If you suspect that your child may have inherited a predisposition to ADHD from your family or your spouse’s family, you can still prevent the disorder by providing a diet of green leafy vegetables and proteins, encouraging your child to play outdoors, and giving him or her plenty of water, fresh air, sunlight, and adequate rest.

If your child already has already been diagnosed with ADHD, seek the services of a holistic health care professional, who will help you isolate the environmental factors that may be triggering the disorder and design a natural healing plan that will allow your child to overcome his or her problem. You can also use the information from this website to help you design your own at-home healing plan.

Remember that genes do not determine destiny; our relationship with and perception of our environment play a bigger role than you think! Genetics is only the loaded gun. It is the environment that presses the trigger.