Health Information

Risk Factors for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

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A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop ADHD with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your (or your child’s) likelihood of developing ADHD.

Risk factors include:

  • Gender—Boys are more frequently diagnosed with ADHD than girls.
  • Heredity—ADHD and similar disorders tend to run in families, suggesting there may be a genetic component. People with a parent or a sibling, especially an identical twin, with ADHD are at increased risk of developing the condition.
  • Age—Symptoms typically appear in young children aged 3-6 years old.
  • Factors in the pregnant mother—Smoking during pregnancy and preterm labor can increase a child's risk of ADHD.
  • Premature birth
  • Parents' health—A child may be at a higher risk of ADHD if his parent has certain conditions, such as alcoholism and conversion disorder.

Other factors that may increase the risk of ADHD include:

  • Head injury at a young age (less than two years old)
  • Being born with a serious heart condition
  • Having Turner syndrome (a genetic condition)
  • Being exposed to certain pesticides
  • Spending over two hours a day watching TV or playing video games when young

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2013 -
  • Update Date: 04/07/2014 -
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