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ADHD in Children Health Center

Can You Prevent ADHD?

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Though there is no way to prevent ADHD , there are ways to help all children feel and do their best at home and at school.

Can good prenatal care help to prevent ADHD?

Complications of pregnancy are linked to ADHD. You can increase the chance of your child not having ADHD by staying healthy throughout your pregnancy . A healthy diet and regular doctor visits are important. So is avoiding the use of alcohol and drugs.

Children whose mothers smoked while they were pregnant are twice as likely to develop ADHD. Some studies suggest a pregnant woman's exposure to lead, as well as lead exposure in early childhood, may be linked to ADHD. Other studies are exploring the possible connection between premature birth and ADHD. 

Does diet play a role in preventing ADHD?

Giving your child a healthy, balanced diet from an early age is good for all children, whether or not they have ADHD.

Some experts believe that altering a child's diet may reduce hyperactive behavior. Ben Feingold developed a popular diet designed to lessen hyperactivity. It is an elimination diet that targets artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives. The medical community hasn't accepted the diet, and some studies have disproved Feingold's theory. Still, many parents who have tried the diet reported an improvement in their child's behavior.

There is no scientific proof linking ADHD to sugar. Processed sugars and carbohydrates may affect a child's activity level by rapidly raising blood sugar levels. This blood sugar spike may produce an adrenaline rush that could cause a child to become more active, followed by a "crash" in activity and mood as the adrenaline levels fall.

Parents are encouraged to try cutting certain foods from their children's diet if they feel the foods affect behavior negatively. It’s usually best to eliminate one food or category at a time so that you can be certain the effect you are seeing can be attributed to the category you are eliminating. Some experts, though, think that behavioral changes may be due to the way the families interact with each other while they're on an elimination diet. The child's behavior may improve -- not because of the diet, but as a result of getting more attention from the parents.

It's important not to go too far. Being too restrictive with your child's diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Dietitians and doctors can help you make a healthy eating plan for your children. 

It’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of elimination diets, particularly for children who may be experiencing decreased appetite as a side effect of many medications commonly used to treat ADHD.

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