A study published in the current issue of the British Medical Journal, indicates that children who have suffered injuries, particularly head injuries or burns, before the age of two, are more prone to develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) before the age of ten. Injuries in children in general make them vulnerable to ADHD behavior. This information was taken from about 300 general practices over a 15-year period.
Though these two variables are linked, it is still not clear as to which variable is responsible for the other. It is even assumed that a third variable is present which is responsible for both.

In the latest study, a team of UK and US researcher’s, assumed that the rate of ADHD diagnosis in children suffering from head injuries is higher as compared to children suffering from burns; at an early age. ADHD children are said to develop a more risk-taking behavior, and are thus more prone to injuries. Moderate to severe head injuries in school children result in ADHD development.

The cause of ADHD is still not known. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines believe that other than genetics, external factors like injury or even maternal smoking may cause ADHD.

Dr. Jon A. Shaw, director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami, says that it is proved that ADHD is a heritable disease. Around 85% of ADHD children have a family history of ADHD. “Children with ADHD are impulsive, hyperactive, distractible and inattentive, and are accident-prone, and thus more likely to put themselves at risk for injury,” he said.

Dr. Heather Keenan is an Associate Professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and also the study’s lead researcher. Keenan and her colleagues compared three groups of children, namely; children with head injury before the age of two, children with burns, who had not undergone a head injury before the age of two, and lastly children who were not injured in any way before the age of two. They reasoned that if ADHD was caused due to a head injury then the other two groups would be lesser at risk of developing ADHD. The researchers found that children suffering from injury or burns had higher chances of developing ADHD as compared to the third group of children.

Keenan says, “Children with early injury should receive routine developmental and behavioral surveillance by their pediatrician, as well as injury prevention counseling. Early injury may be an indicator of attention problems in some children.” However, Professor Steve Field, chair of the Royal College of GPs, says it’s “very difficult” to diagnose ADHD.

This condition is said to affect twice as many boys than girls. These patients usually suffer from hyperactivity, forgetfulness, poor impulse control and distractibility among other things. Though environmental factors surely influence the severity of this condition, ADHD is not a result of poor parenting, family problems, or bad teachers or schools.