What Really Causes ADHD?

side profile of mother reading to her daughter Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is now recognized as a common childhood disorder that can continue into adulthood. While diagnosing ADHD has become more common, understanding ADHD causes remains a work in progress.

“There is no single test for diagnosing ADHD and there is no single ADHD cause,” notes Loren R. Dribinsky, MD, a psychiatrist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass.

“We know that genes are one of the most important ADHD causes because ADHD runs strongly in families,” adds Scott J. Hunter, PhD, director of pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Chicago. “What we don’t know is how other possible factors influence those genes or make children’s brains more vulnerable to ADHD.”

Many theories about ADHD causes have been considered over the years, including:

• Lack of good parenting