Medical science still is in the dark as to what really causes attention deficit disorder or ADD although signs have shown that genes may play a part in the development of this condition.  As with other diseases, ADD can arise from a number of factors.  Besides genetics, scientists are focusing on specific environmental causes like the social environment as well as the role of nutrition and brain injuries in the development of ADD.

Genes – It has been established through various international studies that ADD is genetically inherited. More studies are being done focusing on several genes that are suspected of increasing the likelihood of this condition in some people. Identifying these genes can in the near future aid researchers to prevent the development of ADD before its symptoms show up. Knowing more about these genes can also lead obviously to the creation of better treatments.

Some children with ADD who possess specific types of genes have been observed to have a thinner tissue in the regions of the brain connected to attention function; however, as these children grew up those observed tissues eventually developed to a normal level of thickness.  The symptoms of ADD likewise became better in those children.

Environmental factors – Several researches into ADD in children give evidence of its link to alcohol use and cigarette smoking during their mothers’ pregnancy. Also, preschoolers who were subjected to high levels of lead (from paint in old buildings among others) are also highly likely to develop ADD.

Sugar – The notion that refined sugar can lead to the development ADD is a very popular theory. The fact is research disproves this theory more than it supports it. Studies done were some children were given foods with sugar and other children given foods with sugar substitute exhibited  no striking difference in learning capabilities or behavior than children who received foods with the sugar substitute. One other more recent study wherein children were either given more than normal amounts of sugar or sugar substitutes concluded with the same results.

In another study, children who were considered sugar-sensitive by their mothers were provided foods laced with aspartame a widely known sugar substitute. Although all the children were given aspartame, 50% of the mothers were told their children were given sugar and the other 50% were told their children had eaten. The children who said were given sugar were observed by their mothers to be hyperactive compared to the rest of the children.

Food additives – Studies done recently in Britain have suggested a possible connection of some preservatives or artificial colors to increase of activity. The findings though are so far still inconclusive.

Brain injuries – There is a connection between children who have experienced a brain injury showing characteristics akin to ADD. The number of small children with ADD who have experienced a traumatic brain injury is small though.

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