Home > Medical > ADHD > Overview Updated 17 October 2013 What are the causes of ADHD? ADHD is caused by differences in neurotransmitter patterns in certain parts of the brain. ADHD has a genetic component, and a group of genes involved has been identified. 1 Pin It iStock Related ADHD: the symptoms all parents should know Could you have adult ADHD? Autism and ADHD often occur together ADHD makes teen drivers worse Ask ADHD Expert » Quiz Is my toddler eating properly? » Talk Parenting forum » Ask Paediatrician » Bizarre uses for bodily fluids Breathe for me ADHD is caused by differences in neurotransmitter patterns in certain parts of the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that make it possible for nerve impulses to travel from one nerve cell to another, and therefore play an essential role in the functioning of the brain. The brain performs a vast range of tasks or functions, allowing us, for instance, to see, hear, think, speak and move. Each function is performed by a different part of the brain. In individuals with ADHD there are lower than normal levels of certain neurotransmitters (especially dopamine) in the regions of the brain that are responsible for regulating behaviour and attention. Research also confirms that the Norepinephrine system is also involved in some patients.Genetic componentADHD has a genetic component and a group of genes involved has been identified. The genetic component is confirmed with epidemiological studies looking at family groups. Research has shown that in the case of identical twins, if one of the twins has ADHD there is an almost 100% chance that the other twin will show symptoms of ADHD.ADHD can also be present in some patients with neurological damage occurring either before or after birth. Certain developmental disorders or syndromes, like Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, are associated with a higher incidence of ADHD.Diet is often cited as the cause for ADHD. Patients with malnutrition or a poor diet may manifest some of the symptoms. In a small subgroup dietary factors may play a role in the worsening of symptoms, especially that of impulsivity/hyperactivity in younger children. Ongoing research is looking at the role that essential fatty acids play in some patients. Poisoning with heavy metals like lead will create a similar clinical picture in some patients.Although environmental factors do not play a causal role in ADHD, a disorganised, chaotic and stressful environment can cause behaviour which mimics that of ADHD.(Reviewed by Dr A van der Walt, MMed (Paed) BSc Hon (Human Genetics), May 2007 and July 2010) More in Medical ADHD: the symptoms all parents should know More: ADHDOverview advertisement Get a quote Momentum - save up to 35% on healthcare advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 1 comment Add your comment Thank you, your comment has been submitted. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Medical Shortage of chemo drugs at Joburg hospital Medical Popular hair treatment linked to cancer Parenting Size of foetus affects stillbirth risk Lifestyle Climate data could help Tanzania curb malaria Diet and nutrition High-fat diets linked to breast cancer Medical Powdererd alcohol product blocked by US authorities From our sponsors Momentum Health OatWell Dual Cross Is being overweight or obese dangerous? Tips to keep your immunity strong this winter Smile your way to better health Live healthier Strenghten your immunity » Keep your immunity strong Immune system boosters Boost your family's immunity 5 immune boosters in your kitchen You don’t need a handful of vitamins and supplements to keep your body healthy, check out these five immune boosting foods you probably already have in your kitchen. Laugh a little » Eat yourself happy Laugh more and live longer Laughing yoga the best medicine The healing power of laughter A good chuckle doesn't only make you feel happy for a moment, it's beneficial to your health too.