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 Lifestyle How to survive load shedding Natural How to cure insomnia naturally Medical Global warming could push malaria to higher areas Fitness No preferred treatment for neck pain Lifestyle FDA approves new testosterone drug Medical US fears for patents on next-generation drugs in India From our sponsors Recovery after exercise is an essential part of any workout What is Metabolic Syndrome? Could you have it? Eyecare for computer users Treet-It Anti-Lice aiding schools in the prevention of Head Lice Live healthier Down hill? » Argus Cycle Tour Celebrities who masturbate Can't get it up? Erectile dysfunction and the cyclist Does cycling cause erectile dysfunction? Some urologists seem to think so. Fitness fuel » Banned substances Sport and nutrition Exercise myths busted Are there any 'safe' sports supplements? Sportsmen and -women need to be super vigilant when they take any medication or supplement. Just one wrong step can ruin a promising career, DietDoc warns.