Who’s at Risk from ADHD?

ADHD risk

Research regarding possible causes, treatments, and risk factors for ADHD is ongoing. Thus, parents and medical professionals sometimes have to rethink their ideas about ADHD based on recent research. In understanding something about who is at risk for developing ADHD, it’s important to note that what role genetics, environment, injury, and parenting practices play in the development of ADHD is not a settled issue.

Following are some of the known and conjectural risk factors for developing ADHD.


What kinds of children develop ADHD symptoms? Are there are particular groups that tend to be more susceptible to this disorder? Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD, but some sources point out that new diagnostic techniques and insights may show more females with ADHD than was previously thought.

Research indicates that ADHD is a universal disorder, and is not particular to any ethnic group or culture. However, ADHD tends to be more discernable in cultures that require children to attend school.


Health experts have pointed out that there’s no such thing as a genetic epidemic, and ADHD diagnoses are rising at epidemic proportions. Nonetheless, there may be genetic components besides gender.

ADHD has been observed running in families, but that may not necessarily indicate an actual gene being involved. Instead, parenting practices or environmental factors may come into play, as families tend to raise their children similarly to how they were raised.


The role of the environment in the development of ADHD is controversial, and is still undergoing research. Recent findings do point to some distinct possibilities in this regard, however.

Even before a baby is born, environmental factors may play a role in increasing the risk of the baby developing ADHD. Research indicates a connection between maternal smoking, drinking, and/or drug abuse and the development of ADHD symptoms in the child later on.

Exposure to pesticides has been strongly implicated in the development of ADHD. In the early spring of 2010, a highly-publicized study pointed to the possible correlation between pesticide exposure and the development of ADHD in children.

Exposure to lead in children under the age of 6 may also play a role in ADHD.

Natural health experts point out the role of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, and other food additives in ADHD. They also note the overall role of a healthy diet in preventing and managing ADHD. So children whose families do not practice healthy eating habits may be at greater risk for ADHD.


According to research, children and babies who suffer head injuries are much more likely to develop ADHD than children who are not injured.

Parenting Style

Studies around the world have indicated certain parental behaviors that are consistent among families with ADHD kids. But it’s unclear as to which came first – did the parenting style result in or exacerbate the symptoms of ADHD in the kids? Or did the kids’ ADHD produce the same parental reactions and subsequent parenting styles?


Did you know? Fidget toys can help kids with ADHD focus better. And there are different types of fidget toys that can meet different sensory needs. For some kids, a little noise, color or light can actually help with focus, while some kids find touching different textures helpful, and others may need fidgets to help build biting and chewing skills.

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