A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop
with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your (or your child’s) likelihood of developing ADHD.
Risk factors include:
- Gender—Boys are more frequently diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
- Heredity—ADHD and similar disorders tend to run in families, suggesting there may be a genetic component. People with a parent or a sibling, especially an identical twin, with ADHD are at increased risk of developing the condition.
- Age—Symptoms typically appear in young children aged 3-6 years old.
- Prenatal factors—Having a mother who smoked cigarettes and/or drank alcohol during pregnancy can increase a child's risk of ADHD. Being born prematurely may increase the risk, as well.
Parents' health—A child may be at a higher risk of ADHD if his parent has certain conditions, such as
Other factors that may increase the risk of ADHD include:
- Head injury
at a young age (less than two years old)
- Being born with a serious heart condition
(a genetic condition)
- Being exposed to certain pesticides
- Spending over two hours a day watching TV or playing video games when young
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Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
4th ed. Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2005.
ADHD basics. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at:
http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/adhd/Pages/ADHD-Basics.aspx. Accessed August 14, 2012.
The Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/learning/adhd.html. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated April 11, 2012. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated April 25, 2012. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/what-is-attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder.shtml. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Management. American Family Physician. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd.html. Accessed August 14, 2012.
Stern T, Rosenbaum J, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch S.
Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry.
Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008.
1/8/2010 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamicmedical.com/what.php: Froehlich TE, Lanphear BP, Auinger P, et al. Association of tobacco and lead exposures with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics.
2/4/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Froehlich TE, Lanphear BP, Auinger P, et al. Association of tobacco and lead exposures with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
11/19/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Swing EL, Gentile DA, Anderson CA, Walsh DA. Television and video game exposure and the development of attention problems. Pediatrics.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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