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Key Information About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Updated on May 21, 2021
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common disorder that affects both children and adults.

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) reports that an estimated 129 million children worldwide live with ADHD.



Experts aren’t completely sure what causes this common mental health disorder; however, research studies suggest that heredity is the most common cause of ADHD.

One research study found that more than 25% of relatives of families with a child with ADHD also had the condition, a much higher rate than in families without a child with ADHD.

Also, twin studies have demonstrated that there is an 82% chance that identical twins will both have ADHD if at least one of them has the condition, compared to a 38% chance among fraternal twins.

Clinical and epidemiological associations show a consistent association and dose–response relationship between prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoking (maternal reports and urinary cotinine levels) and offspring ADHD.

Half of the adults who report symptoms of ADHD also report co-existing substance-abuse disorders, including alcoholism.

Prenatal maternal stress is a risk factor for both autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Other factors that may contribute to the development of ADHD include being born prematurely and brain injury.



Inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity are the core symptoms of ADHD. A person with this condition:

  • makes careless mistakes
  • finds it difficult to pay attention
  • is unable to follow through on instructions
  • finds it difficult to organize tasks
  • loses things
  • performs inappropriate actions
  • is forgetful
  • is unable to play quietly
  • talks excessively.

Researchers from King's College London and the University of Pavia in Italy consulted historical evidence, including accounts from Leonardo da Vinci's contemporaries, and concluded that his issues with time management, concentration and procrastination could be attributed to ADHD.



Treating ADHD usually requires medical, educational, behavioral and psychological intervention.

This comprehensive approach to treatment is sometimes known as “multimodal”; and, depending on the age of the individual with ADHD, may include:

  • parent training
  • medication
  • skills training
  • counseling
  • behavioral therapy
  • educational supports
  • education regarding ADHD

"For some children with ADHD, if behavioral interventions are not sufficient or if there are significant concerns – maybe safety concerns or (they’re) not able to learn because of such significant ADHD symptoms, the medication could be considered,” said Dr. Elizabeth Harstad, a developmental behavioral pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Stimulant drugs (e.g., methylphenidate, amphetamine) are the most commonly prescribed medications for treatment of ADHD.

In the past, ADHD treatment has typically focused on medications. The specific class of medication most commonly prescribed for ADHD is stimulants. These stimulant medications — like Ritalin (methylphenidate) or Adderall (an amphetamine) — are commonly prescribed, well-tolerated, act quickly (usually soon after a person takes them), and in most people, have few side effects.

— James Haggerty, MD


Though there is no way to prevent ADHD , there are ways to reduce the risk. Pregnant women should stay healthy throughout their pregnancy.

Healthy diet and regular doctor visits are important; so are avoiding the use of alcohol and drugs.

Medical science has not yet found a way to prevent ADHD. ADHD is one of the most commonly inherited disorders of the human race, transmitted from parent to child genetically, and present in 10-15% of all children. As in most conditions, the symptoms of ADHD range from mild to severe, with the majority of individuals falling in the moderate range.

— Norris S. Payne, MD

5 Common Mental Disorders

Eating disorder
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R


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