Environmental factors in etiology of ADHD Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common developmental disorders of childhood. It was reported that it is a disease that affects 5.29% of children and adolescents in the entire world. Although ADHD is a disorder with high inheritability, genetic factors are not the only explanation to ADHD etiology. ADHD is a disorder etiology which has genetic and environmental components and gene-environment interaction. In spite of the fact that many environmental factors are linked to ADHD, the number of environmental factors that are proven to be in significant cause-effect relation is too small. In other words, in presence of proper genetic basis, disease appears in presence of many environmental factors each of which have a slight effect, its severity or prognosis is variable. Environmental factors that are most commonly linked to ADHD pathophysiology are; complications during pregnancy, natal and postnatal period, several toxins and food substances. It has been considered that exposure to risk factors that may affect development of the brain in any of these periods will have long-term effects on behavior. Along with mother’s cigarette or alcohol use during pregnancy, emotional difficulties, medical diseases and complications of pregnancy; natal complications, low birth weight, premature birth, post mature birth, physical traumas that may affect brain development in early childhood, psychosocial difficulties are also found to be related to ADHD. Studies of gene-environment interaction also note the importance of environmental factors. For example, a study showed that in cases which carry 7 repeated alleles of DRD4, exposure to prenatal cigarettes causes more severe symptoms of ADHD. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the role of environmental factors in etiology of ADHD, review these factors in the light of related literature and, lastly, to mention gene-environment interaction.
Part of the book: ADHD