ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a syndrome defined as the inability to focus attention and having periods of hyperactivity. Attention Deficit Disorder is one of the most frequently diagnosed childhood psychiatric conditions. ADD is a term that has multiple labels, such as "hyperactivity" and "learning disability." ADD describes three different conditions: attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity, and attention deficit disorder residual type. Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD) is the most common (3% of all school-age children carry this diagnosis). It is a syndrome that affects mainly children and adolescents and is cross-cultural. It seems to be more often found in boys than girls.

Signs and Symptoms

Characteristics of this disorder are as follows in the order of their frequency, which may be mild or severe:

  • Hyperactivity.
  • Excessive, often inappropriate motor activity.
  • Perceptual motor impairment.
  • Emotional instability.
  • General coordination deficit.
  • High levels of distractibility.
  • Failure to finish tasks.
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Disorders of memory and thinking
  • Specific learning disabilities.
  • Speech and hearing problems.
  • Neurological signs.
  • Electroencephalograph (EEG) irregularities.

A child with ADD may be described as disruptive, fidgety, easily frustrated, and having aggressive tendencies and the inability to concentrate. Usually an ADD child has a normal or above average IQ, but is hampered by a short attention span which results in poor school grades.

Possible Causes or Contributing Factors

  1. Dietary (artificial ingredients, preservatives, additives, refined white flour and sugar).
  2. Food allergies - especially dairy, wheat, corn, yeast, soy, citrus, egg, chocolate and peanuts
  3. Environmental allergies
  4. Essential fatty acid deficiency - faulty pathways may contribute to ADD.
  5. Low blood sugar
  6. Genetic factors - parents of children with ADD often had ADD themselves as a child.
  7. Injury or disease affecting the fetus or newborn - i.e. oxygen deprivation at birth, a mother who smoked during her pregnancy, prenatal trauma to the fetus, fetal alcohol syndrome may be a contributing factor in ADD.
  8. Emotional issues such as boredom or feelings of insecurity may contribute to ADD. Adverse family conditions, such as severe marital discord, large family size, foster care and other conditions can also contribute to ADD.
  9. Heavy metal toxicity - excess levels of metals, such as aluminum, may be be involved in the etiology (J Royal Soc Hlth. 1991; 111:163-168).
  10. Cranial involvement.
  11. Metabolic abnormalities: neurotransmitter synthesis, thyroid hormone synthesis, oxidative pathways, and glucose utilization.
  12. Adrenal function abnormalities - the adrenals produce epinephrine and norepinephrine, two major neurotransmitters.
  13. Recurrent ear infections are twice as common in learning disabled children compared to non-learning disabled children. Frequent ear infections and antibiotic use has been associated with an increased likelihood of developing ADD.
  14. Proper nutrients provide fuel for normal brain development and functioning. Nutrient deficiencies can decrease attention span. Deficiencies of minerals, specifically magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper, have been found more often in ADD children, compared with healthy controls. Magnesium deficiency is the most common.
  15. Dysbiosis, which is an overgrowth of pathogenic flora in the intestines, may trigger ADD. Young children are usually given multiple courses of antibiotic treatment early in life. Antibiotics destroy the healthy probiotic flora in the intestinal tract and encourage the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Dysbiosis has been linked to food allergies, decreased immune function and ADD.