Expert Author Rebecca Shelly

Is ADHD inherited? The answer to that question is becoming much clearer thanks to research. Because identical twins carry the same genetic composition, researchers in a Norwegian study found that there is an 80% chance a child will inherit ADHD from parents or an immediate biological family member, especially the father. For comparison the study also included fraternal twins, which carry genes as different from each other as if they were a single born sibling. If no immediate family member has ADHD there was less than a 5% chance for acquiring the disorder. Another reason it is believed that ADHD runs in the family and is inherited is the fact that even though one sibling does not have ADHD the chances are high that their children may inherit the disorder.

Certain environmental factors can also play a role in ADHD besides the inherited factor. Drug use which includes cigarettes and alcohol during pregnancy affects the fetus causing damage to the DNA of a developing child and also interferes with the normal development of brain receptors in the developing baby. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome results in low birth weight, brain cell destruction, and additional physical defects that have the same symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention as it relates to ADHD. Environmental toxins like PCBs and lead in paint and pipes also can harm brain development.

Researches also believe that a receptor gene which regulates dopamine is linked to hyperactivity; a symptom of numerous people with ADHD. Dopamine is a brain chemical that sends signals to connecting nerves which help control many symptoms of ADHD, like concentration and learning. It seems that those in the study with ADHD have a greater chance of carrying the gene with the mutation than those without it adding to the conclusion that ADHD does run in families.

The reason stimulant medications are used such as Ritalin and Adderall are to boost dopamine levels which help connect the signals to the nerves controlling ADHD symptoms. Using prescription drugs, nicotine and street drugs all increase dopamine in the brain which researches say is why there is a strong link between ADHD and drug abuse.

Instead of prescription medications there are many non-stimulant products with none of the side effects which also raise dopamine and serotonin levels to create emotional calmness and the capability to focus on tasks. L-tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine and can be supplemented with diet or in pill form. Lean meats are all high sources of L-tyrosine as well as most fish. Dairy products such as eggs, cottage cheese, spinach, seaweed, mustard greens, avocados, bananas and pumpkin seeds also are an excellent source.

Nutrition is a key in controlling optimum health and this includes brain function. The association of magnesium deficiency in children with ADHD has been well-recognized. In one study 40 children with clinical symptoms of ADHD were given magnesium and vitamin B6 for 8 weeks. Children from the ADHD group showed drastically lower levels of hyperactivity. Aggressive behavior was reduced and focus in school improved. Clinical symptoms of ADHD reappeared in a few weeks after stopping the supplements; along with a decrease in magnesium and B6 levels.

These are just a couple of suggestions for controlling ADHD naturally. There are other combinations of vitamins that have been shown to be low in people with ADHD as well as other methods of helping the situation. One person may benefit from exercise which raises dopamine levels and another by omitting foods that may actually be the culprit. There is a long list of foods that can aggravate the condition; another Norwegian study linked milk and gluten to ADHD.

Although more research and studies need to be done; so far the results do seem to point to the fact that ADHD does run in the family and is inherited.

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