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Causes of ADHD and ADD

May 10th 2010

ADHD children have become more common over the last two decades in Western Societies. The causes of ADD and ADHD has eluded researchers so far. This little snippet of information indicates that the answer is not simple. Much research focuses on one or other of the possible causes, excluding others. No two people are the same and no two people react to our environment the same. What can trigger ADHD in one person, leaves another unaffected.

There are so many possible causes and combinations of causes, giving a synergistic effect, that any research based on a few hundred individuals (usually there are less) is never going to reach a statistically reliably clear answer. The assumption that we are dealing with one disorder is the basic fault in the reasoning. An article well worth reading, showing the inane reasoning from a part of the scientific research community in Attention Deficit Disorder and cuts right through the scientific waffling psychobabble, is titled Does ADHD exist?

ADD and ADHD is an artificially contrived, arbitrary diagnosis, describing certain behaviour patterns, for which there are many various causes.

Meet five criteria and the child is “normal”, but meet six criteria and the magic number has been passed, the child is a patient with a “disorder”.

Even ADD has been removed as a “disorder” and chucked in with ADHD. Two basic errors are obvious. Firstly there is no physiological or neurological test to diagnose Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Secondly there are many factors that have been shown to be the cause of the ADHD behaviour patterns in specific ADHD children. One data entry is not sufficient to be statistically significant, but to that ADHD child who is that data entry, it 100% statistically significant.

The ADHD Gene

Genetics cannot be a major factor. For a genetic factor to be in a child, it has to be present in a parent, a grand parent, a great grand parent and so on. Genetic factors do not cause epidemics, unless there is a specific sources for damaging genes in one generation, such as an atom bomb on Hiroshima, or masses of bombs with depleted uranium in Iraq.

If it is a genetic cause, then the individuals with ADHD genes emigrated to the United States from Europe, and were easier to catch in Africa as slaves. This left an ADHD deficient populations in Europe and Africa, where there is far less prevalence of ADHD.

For the “gene” explanation to be viable, its proponents should also explain why ADHD is epidemic over a generation (15 - 20 years). Cases of ADHD have increased with epidemic proportions over the last 15 years, especially in the United States. The question to ask is if there is an ADHD epidemic, or if there is a diagnosis epidemic.

The major error in this research on this subject is the “one size fits all” syndrome. The research tries to find simple statistical indications in a complex interrelationship between many seemingly independent factors. If there are, for example, ten factors which in various combinations can activate a condition, but the researchers are looking at only one factor, then the researchers get lost in the fog of confusing data. It may be possible to bring out trends using different statistical methods, but many of those trends are the product of the statistical methods and the expectations of the researchers and not of the studies' data.

If a certain behaviour pattern appears in a family, with the grand parents, parents and children, then it is not sure that it is genetic. It could be, but it could also be a form of behaviour learned from one generation to the next.

Oversimplifying a complex problem is normal in scientific research, and is in many cases a justified step on the way to understanding the complexity. However, when the underlying complexity can only be understood from another paradigm, then the oversimplification is not justified. We might have mapped the human genome, but that is a small step. Mapping the human genome was not a great intellectual feat, it was the result of computers carrying out mind numbingly repetitive computations. Understanding the human genome is still a very long way off.

Karl Popper the scientific philosopher proposed the concept of falsifiability, a very useful tool in science. Maybe some of the researchers in the Attention Deficit field should brush up on their philosophy of science. Much of the current research would not stand up to the test.

One of psychiatry's most studied genes is the dopamine D4 receptor, or DRD4. This has been mentioned as the "ADHD" gene. A group of researchers found variations in the DRD4  associated with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, delusional disorder and psychotic disorder. However a few years later, when trying to replicate their first result, the same group came to the opposite conclusion,DRD4 variants were not associated with these psychoses. The serotonin transporter gene has also been looked at to see if this is a cause of depressions, and found not to play a role.

An explanation for different results can be explained by the DRD4 gene predisposes the person to become ADD or ADHD, but is not necessarily activated in all cases.

The oversimplification of desiring a gene to blame, ignores the myriad of factors which not only play influence by themselves, are interrelated and in some cases have asynergic effect. We do not know how these factors contribute to the overall effect. There areenvironmental factors, social factors, non genetic biological factors, and genetic factors.

Among the genetic factors resulting in allergies, are allergies against casein (dairy products) and gluten (wheat products) which show themselves in ADHD like behaviour. Anyone with a genetic gluten and casein intolerance does not need a cocaine category drug (Ritalin is a Schedule 2 drug), but rather a dietary guide to health. There are also other genetic conditions causing ADHD like symptoms, such as Klinefelter syndrome.

If there is a gene specifically causing ADHD, then it is a “genius gene” and not a “disorder gene” as many of history's most talented and creative people have had ADHD behaviour.

Other ADHD Causes

Usually a person with ADHD like behavior is suffering from a variety of problems. It is essential to treat the underlying causes and not just the symptoms.

Food allergies are not restricted to casein and gluten. There is the food dye ADHD connection as well. A food dye does not cause ADHD behavior in every child, but for an adult or a child with a food dye allergy the statistical significance is 100%, whatever some ivory tower academic may hypothesise in their dreams.

Among the causes of ADHD like behavior are:

A visual thinker.

A creative mind.

A highly intelligent child.

Environmental pollutants.

Stressful home environments.

Death in the family.

Sexual abuse when young.

Emotional abuse.

Mother drinking or taking drugs while pregnant.

Mother smoking during pregnancy.

Low birth weight.

Excessive TV watching when young.

Playing video games when young.

Bad parenting (yes some of those children are actually real spoilt brats).


Magnesium deficiency (may help overcome depression as well)

Different set of rules at home and at school.

Cognitive dissonance.

Lack of discipline in schools.

Life stresses such as the parents divorce, moving to a new town or country.

Stress at school from learning disability.

Lack of sleep.

Sleep disorders.

Apnea (a sleep disorder).


Infections, bacterial or viral.

Parasites, e.g. worms.

Mother's anxiety during pregnancy.

Inability to connect cause and effect (does not understand why he or she is punished).

Hearing and vision problems causing frustration at school.

Mercury poisoning.

Lead poisoning.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).


Early diabetes.

Omega-3 essential fatty acid deficiency.

B vitamin deficiency.

Iron deficiency.

Emotional difficulties.

Communication difficulties. Unable to express themselves verbally.

A longer list is given in the article 101 Causes of ADHD.

In addition normal behaviour can be perceived as abnormal. For example children tend to look away from a face when they are thinking hard. An ADHD child tends to look away more frequently and for longer periods. The child is really concentrating hard and paying attention. If that child has to look at the teacher, the concentration is on holding the gaze and not solving the problem.

Similarly an ADHD child may fidget, look out the window, doodle, and seem preoccupied with everything except the lesson. The child is really focussing on the lesson, but needs to move. If that child is forced to sit still, that child, like the one in the previous paragraph, will be so concentrated on sitting still that nothing of the lesson filters in. then the child is really attention deficit. This builds frustration and the child reacts with ADHD type hyperactivey behaviour. It may really be a subconscious cry for help.

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