AUG 23, 2017 3:32 PM PDT

What is ADHD?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsitivity that interferes with normal activities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been given an ADHD diagnosis. In younger children, ages 2-5, the number affected is smaller (about 237,000), but no less significant.

Treatment options for ADHD typically involve a combination of counseling therapy, lifestyle modifications, and medications. Untreated, ADHD can slow the progress of learning and development, which can put patients at significant disadvantages later in life. Some studies found that adults without proper ADHD diagnosis and treatment are more likely to use non-prescribed drugs and alcohol.

But what causes ADHD? Contrary to what some parents believe, ADHD is not caused by poor parenting. Nor is it caused by any physical injury in childhood. The cause of ADHD mostly comes down to genetics. Scientists have identified several genes, mutations in which alter the chemistry and activity of the brain, and lead to symptoms of ADHD. Furthermore, it is known that ADHD can run in families. That is, having a parent or sibling with ADHD will increase your chances of also developing this condition. Nevertheless, the precise cause of ADHD is still under investigation, and scientists think a multitude of factors are likely to be involved.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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