Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children (ADHD in Children or Childhood ADHD)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

ADHD Symptoms in Children Slideshow Pictures
Many of the symptoms of ADHD are also symptoms seen during normal childhood.

What should parents of children with ADHD expect from their child?

Children experiencing ADHD should be held to the same expectations as their peers of the same emotional developmental level. Assuming the child has no learning disturbance, children with ADHD will have both academic strengths and weaknesses like all non-ADHD classmates. Athletic ability will vary in a similar manner as will social interaction; some children with ADHD are very outgoing while others are more reserved. Children with ADHD are often noted to be emotionally delayed, with some individuals having a delay in maturity of up to 30% when compared with their peers. Thus, a 10-year-old student may behave like a 7-year-old; a 20-year-old young adult may respond more like a 14-year-old teenager.

Quick GuideADHD Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms in Children

ADHD Pictures Slideshow: Symptoms in Children

Childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD in children) facts

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental-health condition. Childhood ADHD symptoms include
  • Though there is no particular cause of ADHD, there are many social, biological, environmental factors that may raise one's risk of developing or being diagnosed with the disorder.
  • There are three kinds of ADHD: predominately inattentive, predominately hyperactive/impulsive, and the combined (inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive).
  • While medications are commonly used in the treatment of ADHD, behavioral therapy is important in improving the child's ability to function as well.
  • The most common medications used to treat ADHD are the stimulant medications.
  • About 85% of children with ADHD are at risk for having the disorder in adulthood.
  • Much of the latest research on ADHD in children focuses on how exposure to environmental toxins may increase the risk of developing this condition.

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD, also often called ADD, refers to a mental-health condition called attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. People with ADHD have problems with impulse control, excessive activity, and/or concentration. Statistics show that up to 7% of children and teens are thought to suffer from this disorder at any time, with up to 11% of children being given the diagnosis at some point during their childhood. Physicians diagnose boys with childhood ADHD at a rate of more than twice that of girls. That is thought to be at least partly due to the diagnosis in girls being missed because of gender differences in ADHD symptoms.

What are risk factors and causes of ADHD in children?

Although there is no single cause for ADHD, there are a number of biological, environmental, and social factors that seem to increase the risk of a person developing the disorder. Brain imaging studies show that the brains of people with ADHD tend to be smaller, the connections between certain parts of the brain are fewer, and the regulation of the neurochemical dopamine tends to be less than in people who have the disorder.

Risk factors for ADHD that can occur in the womb include maternal stress, as well as smoking during pregnancy and low weight at birth. Being male and having a family history of ADHD increase the likelihood that an individual is diagnosed with ADHD. Socially, low family income and low paternal education are risk factors for developing ADHD. Behavioral expectations based on the culture of an area, from a school district, town, state, or country can influence how often this diagnosis is made.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/22/2015
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