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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Medical History for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

The medical history can provide information about whether problem behavior is caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or another condition. A medical history includes the following:

Birth history

  • The mother's general health during pregnancy, including any exposure to infection and whether she drank alcohol, smoked, or used drugs
  • Delivery and birth: how a child was delivered, any problems that developed, birth weight, and general health of the baby when born

General health history

  • Any significant or serious illnesses or injuries
  • Any diagnosed medical or emotional conditions
  • General development, such as when sitting, crawling, and walking began
  • Any speech problems, such as difficulty talking or trouble understanding the meaning of words
  • Any hearing difficulties, and the results of any hearing tests
  • Sleeping habits, such as the daily average amount of sleep, and at what age naps were no longer needed
  • Whether the child is right- or left-handed
  • Food preferences, including any unusual cravings for substances that are not food (pica)
  • Whether the child has complete bladder and bowel control


  • Temperament and general personality: whether or not the child was an irritable and demanding baby or a sad, anxious, or frustrated child
  • Whether the child has temper tantrums
  • Detailed descriptions of problem behaviors, including when the behaviors were first noticed, when they are most likely to occur (home or school), and what has been done to stop them
  • How the child's behavior compares to other children his or her age
  • What kind of relationships the child has with peers and family members

School performance

  • The name and type of school, grade level, and progress reports from the child's teachers
  • Scores on standardized achievement tests given in school
  • Legibility of handwriting
  • Consistency in completing and turning in homework and tests
  • Friendships and general relationships with peers
  • Involvement in hobbies, sports, and other group activities

Information about the family history

  • Parents' occupations and education
  • Parents' history of learning or behavior problems
  • Any suspicion or evidence of either parent having ADHD
  • Presence of any emotional illnesses, alcohol or drug abuse, or criminal behavior in the immediate family (mother, father, siblings)

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last RevisedFebruary 2, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 02, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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