Your child has just been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and your struggling to understand how she developed it. The first question that comes to your mind, “does this mean that I, or my spouse, gave it to her?” The question of whether or not a parent of a child with ADHD has the same condition is a reasonable question without a definitive answer. The reality is that there are several different proposed causes of ADHD , and genetic links are still yet to be determined.
In fact, one popular belief is that there is an external cause such as a lack of certain vitamins or essential fatty acids,e.g. good fats that we need to eat. Something as simple as a lack of choline caused by cutting out egg yolks, can trigger symptoms of ADHD. A deficiency of DHA (a fat found most abundantly in fish like salmon, catfish, or any other fatty fish such as sardines and anchovies) can cause several problems with the brain and nerves. These are just two examples of potential nutrient deficiencies that can cause ADHD-like symptoms.
While most studies have focused on treatments rather than cause, more formal studies are being conducted to determine a genetic link to ADHD. There are some promising results in identifying deleted or duplicated sequences of DNA in children with the disorder. However, these results are considered only a starting point, and are far from helping identify specific diagnostic tests or treatments. For a parent concerned about having the disorder, the only way to determine this clearly would be to consult a qualified physician, and to undertake treatment once they are diagnosed. If the treatments result in a positive outcome there is further proof that you, the parent of an ADHD child, have the disorder as well.
Many adults do have ADD or ADHD and while they currently make up a smaller market for pharmacological treatments than children, it is becoming clear that adults are being prescribed drugs more frequently than before. For example, Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana, and Methylin) is the most widely prescribed stimulant drug in the United States, rivaling all other countries. It has been proven to be highly effective for treating ADD and ADHD. Most of this is prescribed to children 16 years of age and younger, then ages 17-21 and finally to adults. Many parents are taking the same ADHD medications as their children. This is nothing to be embarrassed about because adult ADHD is real. And perhaps parents who are becoming educated about the symptoms their children are experiencing are beginning to recognize the symptoms in themselves.
It would be more reasonable to assume that you don’t have the same attention disorder as your child, unless you are experiencing symptoms that would lead you to believe that you do. As mentioned before, this diagnosis should be made by a skilled psychiatrist or doctor of psychology before jumping to any conclusions or blaming yourself for the fact that your beloved child is struggling. Find a support group, the experiences of others are invaluable, and may help you find the right treatments for you and your child.
Wiley-Blackwell (2009, January 7). Genetic Determinants of ADHD Examined (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, January 7)