I'm pregnant and have a child with ADHD. Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk of having another child with ADHD?
Answers from Cosima Swintak, M.D.
While experts don't know what causes attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), many factors have been implicated in the development of ADHD. Studies indicate that genes may play a role, so sometimes ADHD appears to run in families. Certain environmental factors also may increase risk, as can problems with the central nervous system at key moments in development.
Although ADHD may not be preventable, to reduce your risk of having another child at risk of problems with attention and hyperactivity:
- Avoid the use of alcohol during pregnancy
- Don't use illegal drugs
- Avoid smoking
- Get good medical care during your pregnancy — pregnancy complications and premature birth are risk factors for ADHD
- Avoid exposure to environmental toxins — such as lead, found mainly in paint and pipes in older buildings
- Avoid exposure to environmental poisons — such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Although there's no evidence linking sugar or other foods to the development of ADHD, a healthy diet is important for your health and your child's health.
Aug. 01, 2014
Cosima Swintak, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed July 24, 2014.
- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder/index.shtml. Accessed July 24, 2014.
- Goodlad JK, et al. Lead and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review. 2013;33:417.
- Lindstrom K, et al. Preterm birth and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in school children. Pediatrics. 2011;127:858.