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ADHD in Children Health Center

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ADHD: Hyperactive-Impulsive Type

What Causes Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD?

The causes of ADHD aren't clear. Scientists say it is due in large part to genes that are passed down from parent to child. But experts aren't sure yet which specific genes make it more likely to get ADHD. A child is more likely to have ADHD if a close family member has it.

Other things that may influence ADHD risk include:

  • Cigarette smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy
  • Being born premature
  • Low birth weight
  • Being exposed to lead during early childhood
  • Brain injuries

Many parents claim sugar makes their child hyperactive. But there is no evidence that refined sugar causes ADHD or makes it worse.

There may be a link between ADHD and food additives such as artificial colors and preservatives. But that has not been confirmed.

ADHD Treatments

Once your child is diagnosed with hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, the next step is to treat it. Every child’s treatment plan can be different. Sometimes it takes trying a few things to find the right one.

ADHD treatment usually starts with medication. A few ADHD medicines are available.

Stimulant drugs. Despite their name, stimulant drugs don’t rev up or excite kids with ADHD. They calm them down. These medications include:

They come in different forms, including:

  • Pills
  • Capsules
  • Liquids
  • Skin patches

No stimulant has been proven to work better than others. Each child responds differently to these medicines.

Nonstimulant drugs. This type of medication includes atomoxetine (Strattera). Although nonstimulant medicines may not work as well as stimulants, they have fewer side effects.

High blood pressure medicines. These are another choice. These drugs can help control impulsivity and hyperactivity symptoms.

Antidepressants. Drugs that affect mood, including bupropion (Wellbutrin), can sometimes help with ADHD symptoms.

Often, a child will need a combination of medicine and other treatments. You may need to work with your doctor to adjust the medicine as your child's symptoms change.

Parents and pediatricians should watch carefully for side effects from medicine. Common ADHD drug side effects include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Slowed growth
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Irritability
  • Tics
  • Anxiety

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