Although the causes of ADD are poorly understood, biological inheritance appears to be important in many cases. The disorder seems to run in families. A number of non-genetic factors can also play a causative role. Among them drug or alcohol abuse or other problems in a mother's pregnancy, birth trauma, early child abuse, brain injuries from accidents, meningitis, encephalitis, low-level lead poisoning, and psychological disorders.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, some researchers thought ADD was caused or intensified by sugar and artificial food additives. This theory is now controversial, but some studies still show that specific foods such as chocolate, wheat, cow's milk, and oranges may exacerbate the condition in some hypoactive children.
There are a variety of tests which may be used by doctors to diagnose this condition. Tests include:
The best treatment is thought to be a combination of medication and psychological therapies.
Although there is considerable controversy about their possible overuse, stimulants such as amphetamines or, more usually, methylphenidate (better known by the brand name Ritalin) are the medications often prescribed for ADD. (Strange as it seems, stimulants often calm hypoactivity).
A Health Professional needs to monitor the dosage closely (about twice a month), both to check for the right level and to watch for side effects.
Of the psychological therapies, behaviour modification may be best, particularly if the therapist helps parents learn some of the techniques for behaviour control. It is often given in conjunction with specific educational interventions, such as help with learning skills. Psychotherapy is a valuable option, particularly if the child suffers from low self-esteem.
Several different alternative therapies may prove helpful, among them Homoeopathy; consult a Homoeopath for guidance.
Although the effectiveness of dietary restrictions is controversial, some doctors recommend a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, sugar-free diet. Some children may also benefit from the B-vitamin supplements niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), and possibly thiamine (B1).
The stimulant caffeine may be helpful. Depending on the results of your child's tests for mineral blood levels, he/she may benefit from supplements.
When to seek further professional advice