It seems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is much more common of a problem compared to 20 years ago. Or maybe it’s just that there is more known about it today, so it’s easier to distinguish a child with high energy versus a child with a behavior disorder such as ADHD.
According to researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, a division of the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, there may be a connection with prenatal exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and a child’s preschool and school-aged development, in particular their chances of having ADHD. PBDEs are a class of flame retardant chemicals that reduce the rate of combustion and how fire disperses. These chemicals have the potential to act as endocrine disruptors when inhaled or eaten by humans. They pass through breast milk and into an unborn child. This was not the first study done regarding PBDE exposure and its correlation to the most common symptoms of ADHD such as hyperactivity, inattention and impulsiveness.
It is still not known what exactly causes ADHD in children or adults. However, genetics seems to play a role. Studies conducted on twins show that ADHD tends to run in families. Researchers are still working on which genes are the ones that cause ADHD. One study indicated a thinner brain tissue where the attention part of the brain is and ADHD, but the difference in thickness changed as the children grew up, and the symptoms reduced as well. Additionally, researchers studied genetic duplications and deletions. The copy number various, also known as CNVs, were higher in people who had ADHD.
Environmental factors play a role in ADHD too. Studies show a possible connection between substance abuse (and smoking) during pregnancy, and hyperactivity and attention issues. When preschoolers are exposed to a high amount of lead, their risk of ADHD is greater. Although it’s not common, a person with ADHD may have had a brain injury at birth or sometime after. A premature birth or low birth weight has the potential to increase a person’s risk of ADHD.
As time goes on, more studies will be done on people with ADHD until more exact causes are known, which can assist in finding a cure and better prevention techniques.