Top Known Causes of ADHD in Children that Every Expecting Mother Should Know

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex disorder affecting how children behave, learn and interact with others. Inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are among the core symptoms of ADHD. The condition can be present at some level in most children, but it could negatively impact their development, academic performance, and social relationships when it becomes severe.

Mothers who suspect their child has ADHD should be aware of the common causes of ADHD in children and how to help them overcome this challenging condition. Here’s what every expecting mother needs to know about ADHD.


There is no doubt that genetics play a role in the development of ADHD. According to Frontiers, the estimated heritability of ADHD is around 80%. The report also suggests that in around 2/3rd of the cases, ADHD symptoms carry into adulthood and often cause significant functional impairment.

It means that the chances of your child having ADHD are higher if you or your partner carry the genes for it. However, environmental factors also play an essential part in its development and cannot be ruled out entirely.

Use of Medication During Pregnancy

Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and painkillers are the most common medications that can affect the fetus. These drugs may cause congenital disabilities if they are taken during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if you decide to use any of these medications.

For example, Tylenol is a popular pain relief and fever medication in the US. A Tylenol ADHD lawsuit is a claim filed by an individual who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) due to consuming acetaminophen during pregnancy or childhood. The drug maker, Johnson & Johnson, is facing lawsuits from several states over the alleged connection between their popular painkiller and mental disorders.

If you use marijuana while pregnant, it can harm your child’s brain development. Children whose mothers used marijuana during their pregnancies have been shown to have poorer language skills than children who were not exposed to marijuana before birth.

Suppose you take other prescription medicines, such as those for ADHD or high blood pressure, during pregnancy. In that case, they mustn’t contain amphetamines or methylphenidate because these substances may also cause ADHD in children after birth.

Excess Sugar Intake

According to Health Line, sugar may exacerbate symptoms in some people with ADHD. Excessive sugar intake in children leads to an increase in the risk of ADHD. Excess sugar affects dopamine levels, a chemical responsible for brain function and attention span. It can take a toll on your child’s mental health and make it difficult for them to focus on the tasks.

To reduce the risk of ADHD, you should try cutting down your child’s sugar intake as much as possible. Limiting their intake will help regulate dopamine levels so they can concentrate better on the tasks. Try replacing sugary foods such as cookies with healthier alternatives like fruits or yogurt.

Excess Caffeine Intake

It is important to note that excessive caffeine intake can cause ADHD symptoms in children. It is because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and increases the dopamine in your body. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, attention span, and motivation levels.

In addition to being a stimulant that impacts your child’s ADHD symptoms, caffeine can also cause sleep problems and lead to anxiety issues among children who are sensitive to it. It may also increase heart arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation (AFib) or ventricular tachycardia (VT), which can be life-threatening. Children with an underlying heart condition should avoid consuming too much caffeine as it could trigger serious cardiac events like stroke or sudden death.

Smoking During Pregnancy

Smoking during pregnancy is one of the most common causes of ADHD in children. It can also lead to other congenital disabilities such as cleft lip and palate, heart defects and congenital heart disease, nervous system abnormalities like spina bifida, low IQ scores, and learning disabilities. 

Not just that, according to a PubMed study, even grand-maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with increased odds of ADHD among grandchildren. You can guess now how bad first-hand smoking is during pregnancy.

Exposure to Toxic Chemicals and Substances During Pregnancy and Birth

Exposure to toxic chemicals and substances during pregnancy and birth can cause ADHD. Several known toxic chemicals have been linked with ADHD, including lead, mercury, pesticides, and phthalates. These substances can enter the body via air pollution or food ingestion.

Expectant mothers need to know about these contaminants because they can affect fetal development in various ways. They may disrupt hormones needed for proper brain function, harm developing organs like the brain and liver, or interfere with how your child’s genetic code is read by proteins called methyltransferases.


Having a child with ADHD is not an easy journey. However, if you are confronted with this diagnosis and want to know more about it, it is essential that you educate yourself on the subject. The more you know about what causes ADHD in children, the better prepared you will be when it comes time for treatment.

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