ADD: The Heredity Factor
Although we don’t know exactly what causes ADD, we know that it tends to run in families. Like many traits of behavior and temperament, ADD is genetically influenced, but not genetically determined. Simply put, no one actually inherits ADD, but they can inherit a proclivity for developing the symptoms of ADD.
You can see the role of genetics at play by glancing at some basic statistics. In a random sample of children, an estimated 5 to 8 percent will have ADD. However, if one parent has ADD, the chances of a child developing it shoot up to about 30 percent. If both parents have ADD, the chances leap to more than 50 percent. Keep in mind, however, that those numbers also mean that none of the children may inherit it, or that all of the children in a family may inherit it.
Of course pure genetics don’t tell the whole story. Life experiences also influence how the genes a person inherits gain – or do not gain – expression. Growing up in a healthy and structured environment with lots of physical exercise makes a difference. So does eating a balanced diet that’s low in refined sugars and additives and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Likewise, the development and reinforcement of good habits of organization, time management and daily planning, along with avoidance of dangerous drugs and too much alcohol, can help reduce the potential toxic expression of certain genes.
Over the years, we have met many families where a parent, after discovering their child has ADD, recalls experiencing similar symptoms and learns that they, too, have ADD. This usually results in a sense of great relief for the parent, who at last has an explanation for why things may have been so difficult for them. It also can help forge a stronger connection between the parent and child. At The Hallowell Center we treat ADD in adults as well as children. We work with individuals and their families to help them overcome their challenges, so they can achieve their dreams.
“If one parent has ADD, chances of a child developing it are 30 percent. If both parents have ADD ... more than 50 percent.”