A Review of Three Risk
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a psychological disorder, which includes symptoms of distractibility, disorganization, impulsivity, and sometimes hyperactivity. Experts on ADHD say it afflicts as many as 2.25 million American children or up to 5% of children under 18. The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, but there are several risk factors that have been studied, three of which this paper will explore.
Genetic inheritance of ADHD is explored in a study performed in 1997. This study used twin boys to estimate genetic and environmental contributions to the behavior associated with ADHD. Their findings may help explain some cases of ADHD, but ADHD does not appear to be simply a genetic disorder.
The second study reviewed in this report reviews another possible cause of ADHD. Maternal smoking has been studied as an environmental factor associated with childhood behavior problems including ADHD. This study in 1997 studied 140 children with ADHD and their first-degree biological relatives to review the link between nicotine exposure while in utero and the later development of ADHD.
A third interesting theory reviewed in this report is the possible effect of season of birth and the development of ADHD. A study performed in 1996 investigated the seasonal variations in the birth patterns of children with ADHD. This study proposes that season of birth may be a possible environmental factor that plays a role in the development of ADHD in children and adolescents.
Hopefully, by understanding all possible causes of ADHD, help for children with this disorder will be more effective.
The subjects of this study were 576 reared-together
twin boys, aged 11 and 12 years (average age was 11.8 years). Both monozygotic twins
and dizygotic twins were included in the study. Families were excluded if the twins
had been adopted or if the twins had physical or intellectual disabilities that would
interfere with the day-long assessment. Of the eligible families, approximately nearly
80% completed the assessment.
Is Maternal Smoking During
Pregnancy a Risk Factor For
In a study performed in 1996, the role of
maternal smoking during pregnancy is reviewed as another risk factor for developing
ADHD. The subjects in this survey were 6-17 year old boys with ADHD and normal comparison
subjects. A total of 140 children with ADHD and their first-degree biological relatives
were compared with the 120 control subjects.
Is Season of Birth a Risk
In a 1996 study, researchers investigated
the seasonal variations in the birth patterns of children with ADHD in comparison
with a group of normal control children. The subjects in this study were 140 boys
with ADHD and 120 normal control children. The subjects were similar in age, gender
and social class.
The findings of these three research reports demonstrate that there are many possible risk factors in the development of ADHD in children. While genetic risk factors are the most studied, there are other environmental factors such as maternal smoking and season of birth, which may play a part in the development of ADHD. It is important to investigate the risk factors for this disorder so that prevention and treatment programs can be improved.
ADHD is so prevalent in our society today and affects so many children that we can not afford to dismiss ADHD as solely a genetic disorder.
References Mick, E., Biederman, J. & Faraone, S. (1996). Is Season of Birth a Risk Factor for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 35, 1470-1477.