Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder

(ADHD and ADD; Hyperkinetic Syndrome; Hyperkinetic Impulse Disorder)

Definition

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects behavior. It can cause hyperactive and impulsive behavior, and/or make it difficult to pay attention. These behavioral problems continue over a long period of time. ADHD affects children, adolescents, and adults.There are three types of ADHD:
  • Inattentive (classic "ADD")
  • Hyperactive-impulsive
  • Combined—the most common type

Causes

The cause of ADHD is unknown. It most likely is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. There also appears to be a genetic factor since ADHD can run in families.
Child's Brain
Child Brain
A chemical imbalance in the brain may be responsible for ADHD.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

This condition is more common in first-born males.Factors that increase your chance of developing ADHD include:
  • Premature birth
  • Having a parent or sibling (especially an identical twin) with ADHD
  • Having a mother who smoked cigarettes and/or drank alcohol, had a urinary tract infection, or had preterm labor during pregnancy
  • Having a parent with certain conditions such as alcoholism and conversion disorder
  • Other possible risk factors include:
    • Head injury at a young age—less than two years old
    • Being born with a serious heart condition
    • Epilepsy —especially when diagnosed under age 2 years
    • Having Turner syndrome
    • Being exposed to certain pesticides
    • Spending over two hours a day watching TV or playing video games when young

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