Causes of ADHD Signs in Kids

Learn about the most common possible causes of ADHD symptoms in children, such as symptoms of candida overgrowth. Prior to reading, it is important to note that there are causes of attention difficulties and hyperactive behavior, but the exact cause of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is not entirely known.

environmental toxins that potentially cause ADHD

There are studies that indicate the frontal lobe, basal ganglia, caudate nucleus, cerebellum, and other areas of the brain, play a considerable role into the possible causes of ADHD because they are involved in complex processes that regulate behavior(1).

However, because diagnosing ADHD often involves a checklist, the results may vary depending on the person making the evaluation. So, being that the exact cause of ADHD as a disorder still remains unknown, I will focus on providing some causes of the associated symptoms as based on my own experience and some recent studies.


There are many studies showing a higher probability in children with family members also diagnosed with ADHD. This includes children in adoptive families showing more symptoms when their biological parents also have symptoms and identical twins both having similar behavior. Recently, there has been further research into the possibility of a particular dopamine gene being passed on as contributing to the cause of ADHD.


One very prominent cause of attention difficulties and hyperactive behavior is sleep problems. When the body does not get sufficient sleep, it becomes fatigued and stressed. As a result the body releases cortisol, a type of steroid, to deal with the stress and help wake the body up. This can lead to the display of hyperactive behavior and ultimately makes it more difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and obtain good sleep quality.

The lack of sleep will also make it difficult to pay attention as you probably know from your own experience. With children it may not always be obvious when they are tired because they usually try to fight fatigue and having to go to sleep. There is also a recent study that indicates signs or possibly even causes of ADHD are linked to sleep problems. Therefore doing your best to focus on positive sleep habits for your child can help with signs or symptoms of ADHD.


Although there has not been sufficient evidence for diets high in sugar to cause symptoms, it seems pretty obvious that sugar can cause hyperactive behavior. I personally don’t need a study to witness this at a birthday party right after the chocolate cake with icing!

As evidenced by believers of the Feingold diet, foods with artificial dyes and certain preservatives may contribute to causes of ADHD. Implementing a gluten free casein free diet has shown to improve attention indicating that these foods may also contribute as well.

There have been recent studies showing the improvements in signs of ADHD after giving children omega-3 fatty acids for a period of time. So I would definitely recommend following a special diet for ADHD when trying to minimize associated symptoms. If eliminating these foods for a substantial period of time does not appear to help, then you can assume these foods are not contributing to causes of ADHD in your child.

Exposure to Toxins

Exposure to toxins, such as lead, alcohol and cigarette smoke while in the womb has been associated with the diagnosis later on in childhood. There is also evidence to support the association of hyperactivity with exposure to lead within the first three years of life.

Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth

Candida or Yeast overgrowth within the body can commonly lead to problems concentrating or "brain fog" that may be confused or misdiagnosed as a cause of ADHD. Determining whether your child may be suffering from this is a good idea before starting any other treatment options.


So, it appears that heredity, sleep, omega-3 fatty acids, and exposure to toxins can all play a role into the causes of ADHD. While there is not any scientific evidence to support that frequent television may also be a cause, I have found studies linking sleep difficulties to frequent television watching.

Being that sleep difficulties are also linked to ADHD, it seems possible that TV may be a contributing factor as well. If A=B and B=C, then doesn’t A=C? I guess it’s more complicated than some simple math, but limiting television certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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1. Teeter, P. A. (1998). Interventions for ADHD: Treatment in developmental context. New York: Guilford Press