Can ADHD Be Prevented?

Given that there are many suspected causes of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, prevention may be difficult. However, as a precaution it is always wise for expectant mothers to receive prenatal care and stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful chemicals during pregnancy. It also makes good sense for mothers to obtain good health care for their children. These recommendations may be particularly important when attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is suspected in other family members.

What Causes ADHD?

Many causes of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have been studied but no one cause seems to apply to all young people with the disorder. Viruses, harmful chemicals in the environment, genetics, problems during pregnancy or delivery, or anything that impairs brain development can play a role in causing the disorder.

Does ADHD Cause Accidents?

Research indicates that children with ADHD are significantly more likely to be injured as pedestrians or while riding a bicycle, to receive head injuries, injure more than one part of the body, and be hospitalized for accidental poisoning. Children with ADHD may be admitted to intensive care units or have an injury result in disability more frequently than other children. Children with ADHD appear to have significantly higher medical costs than children without ADHD. Health care costs for each child with ADHD may be more than twice as high as medical costs for children without ADHD. The main traits of ADHD, in attention and impulsivity/hyperactivity, may place a person with ADHD at greater risk for certain types of accidents and injuries.

Further research is needed to understand what role ADHD symptoms play in the risk of injuries and other disorders that may occur with ADHD. For example, a young child with ADHD may not look for oncoming traffic while riding a bicycle or crossing the street, or may engage in high-risk physical activity without thinking of the possible consequences. Teenagers with ADHD, who drive, may have more traffic violations and accidents and are twice as likely to have their driver's licenses suspended than drivers without ADHD. Much of what is already known about injury prevention may be particularly useful for people with ADHD. (See NCIPC for these and other injury prevention suggestions).

Ensure bicycle helmet use. * Remind children as often as necessary to watch for cars and to avoid unsafe activities. * Supervise children when they are involved in high-risk activities or are in risky settings, such as when climbing or when in or around a swimming pool. * Keep potentially harmful household products, tools, equipment and objects out of the reach of young children. * Teens with ADHD may need to limit the amount of music listened to in the car while driving, drive without passengers and/or keep the number of passengers to a chosen few. * Plan trips well ahead of time; avoid alcohol, drug use, and cellular phone usage. * Parents may want to enroll their teens in driving safety courses before they get their driver's license.