There are many environmental risk factors for childhood ADHD. If you've seen our article archive, the onset of ADHD involves a complex combination of genetics, diet, lifestyle, and the physical environment. A new study suggests another factor that can predict ADHD in a child - the health status of the mother.
The study, which was published in the journal Medical Care, looked at records from a database of Northern California residences. The researchers divided the mothers into three groups - mothers of children diagnosed with ADHD, mothers of children who do not have ADHD, and mothers of asthmatic children. The researchers then compared the medical history, use of health care, and costs of health care across the three groups.
The data showed that mothers with children who have ADHD are more likely to have health conditions like anxiety disorder and depression, and were more likely to make use of health services a year before or after giving birth than mothers whose children have no ADHD or have asthma. The mothers of ADHD children also spent more money on health care the year before or after giving birth compared to those whose children do not have ADHD or have asthma.
This was not the first study to confirm the link between maternal health and the risk of childhood ADHD. A study published in a 1985 issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry discovered that risk factors for ADHD included poor maternal health during pregnancy, previous miscarriage, first pregnancy, premature birth, long labor, and young maternal age.
Of course, the state of the mother's health is no guarantee that her child will suffer from ADHD or its related disorders. As mentioned earlier, a host of environmental factors contribute to the symptoms, which leads to the ADHD diagnosis. What's useful about studies like this one is that it allows you to take preventive measures if you recognize these risk factors fear that your child is a candidate for ADHD.
What are these preventive measures? For starters, there is evidence that breastfeeding an infant will reduce the risk of ADHD, as compared to using infant formula. Human breast milk is rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are needed to form the physical structure of the brain. Of course, this is assuming that the mother has enough omega-3 fats in the body to meet the infant's dietary requirements. If you are breastfeeding, make sure to take around 2,000mg of fish oil supplements rich in the omega-3 fat DHA.
Diet is especially important in the prevention and management of ADHD. Most children with the disorder have a preference for fatty, salty food with zero nutritional value. As a result, they end up being deficient in key nutrients required for proper brain functioning. The great thing about young children is that their food preferences are easily influenced; teach your children to eat vegetables, fish, and cooked food and minimize the availability of junk food and fast food.
Finally, try to buy organic food when possible. Recent studies confirm that children are vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables, and that kids with ADHD have higher pesticide levels in the body than those who do not. Simply buying organic versions of the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables is enough to reduce your children's exposure to these harmful chemicals.
Dr. Yannick Pauli is an expert on natural approaches to ADHD and the author of the popular self-help home-program The Unritalin Solution. He is Director of the Centre Neurofit in Lausanne, Switzerland and has a passion taking care of children with ADHD. Click on the link for more great information about what is ADHD.