More questions on ADHD

What are the causes of ADHD and ADD? And what other conditions could mimic ADHD?
BY YVONNE BEYERS for YOU Pulse magazine

Question: What are the causes?
Abnormalities in the brain may be hereditary, caused by a brain injury or fetal alcohol syndrome. ADD and ADHD occurs six times more frequently among boys than among girls and it seems to be transferred especially from father to son. It could be however that many instances in girls are not diagnosed because most girls with the condition are quiet dreamers. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome are brain-damaged because of the mother's alcohol abuse during pregnancy. This may result in various problems including ADD and ADHD.

Question: What percentage of children really need Ritalin?
If more than two children in a class of 40 (approximately five per cent) use Ritalin, parents should see the warning lights and ask questions. YOU Pulse has discovered that in some schools Ritalin is prescribed to up to a third of the class while only one in 20 children really need it. It's not in the interest of a child without ADD or ADHD to take medicine that affects the level of neurotransmitters.

Question: Will my child amount to anything in life?
Most children with ADD or ADHD react well to medicine and other treatment and will be able to lead a full life as adults. People with these disorders have many positive traits. They may be:

  • Creative and good lateral thinkers - many become excellent researchers
  • Inquisitive and true explorers
  • Active and energetic
  • Enthusiastic, spontaneous and keen to try new things

Question: If it's not ADD/ADHD, what is it?
It could well be emotional or serious learning problems. Some children are hypersensitive and become fidgety whenever something touches their bodies. Other possibilities include low muscle-tone, slow development, bipolar disorder, a kind of epilepsy or lead poisoning, to name a few. The child might also be growing up in a chaotic household.

This article was compiled with the assistance of Professor André Venter, Dr Adri van der Walt and many scientific papers. It is an edited version of an article that originally appeared in the September 2007 edition of YOU Pulse / Huisgenoot-POLS. The current edition is on sale now.

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