Anytime a parent recognizes that their child is struggling physically, mentally or emotionally, their first question is, “What did I do wrong?” Nowhere is this more evident than with parents of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). With the vast amounts of misinformation available at their fingertips, parents often carry the guilt of having let their children consume food dye, watch TV, eat a chicken nugget, or play video games. Repeat after me.
“I did not cause my child’s ADHD.”
Causation vs Correlation
When it comes to medical conditions, causation is the gold standard of scientific study. If you can say confidently, “If you do X, Y will happen,” you have achieved something many researchers only dream about. Instead, most rely on correlation in order to establish a relationship between a behavior and an outcome. For instance, ice cream sales in a big city go up in the summertime. So do murders. That doesn’t mean that ice cream causes murders, merely that there is a correlation between the two statistics. This is important to remember as you sift through information about possible “causes” of ADHD.
The Food Connection
Many European countries have banned certain preservatives and artificial colors in response to research that linked them to hyperactivity in children. Other parents claim that sugar consumption is directly linked to ADHD. Still, others claim that pesticides are responsible for ADHD in children. In reality, food that contains high levels of preservatives or artificial colors, food or drinks with high sugar content, or food laden with pesticides are not healthy for any of us. However, there has been no definitive link to these things and the presence or exacerbation of ADHD.
TV and Video Games
There is a correlation between the number of hours children spend in front of the screen and attention problems. In fact, screen time has been linked to difficulties making friends, solving problems, reading, other cognitive delays. However, no one can definitively say that screen time causes ADHD. Children who have limited exposure to television or video games are still diagnosed on a regular basis.
What is the Cause?
One of the biggest predictors of a child being diagnosed with ADHD is if they have a relative with the disorder. Even though five percent of adults in the US have ADHD, many went undiagnosed as children and may not realize they were affected by it until their child is diagnosed. There are environmental correlations as well. If your child is exposed to lead or if you smoked while pregnant, your child is more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Finally, there is research suggesting that problems with the central nervous system at key points in development even before your child was born may contribute to your child’s symptoms later on.
In the end, there is nothing to be gained from guilt. Your best option is to move forward with an eye toward helping your child overcome their challenges in ways that will allow them to have the best life possible.
Do you want to talk about options for helping your child overcome their challenges without medication? Contact Us or give us as call at (936) 582-0404.