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1 In 10 Children Are Diagnosed with ADHD: Here Is Why

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Today, up to every 1 in 5 boys and 1 in 11 girls are diagnosed with ADHD. Ever wonder why the diagnosis rate is so high? Find out some of the surprising reasons why children these days are more likely to have ADHD below.

Have you ever wondered why so many children today appear to have problems with attention and ADHD? According to a US government survey from 2010, children with ADHD have increased 22 percent since 2003. In fact, now 1 in 10 children are diagnosed with some form of attention or hyperactivity disorder.

ADHD is not just a problem for children, either. Many teens and adults are receiving late-life diagnoses for the condition.

ADHD is a problem that occurs more often in boys than in girls. According to the US survey, about 1 in 5 boys are diagnosed with the disorder, while only 1 in 11 girls have attention problems.

Although better diagnostic tests and awareness of the condition could be a cause for why the condition is so prevalent, there is much evidence that indicates that other factors may also be at play.

Take a look at some of the prevailing theories on why today’s children have more attention problems than in the past.


According to some studies, some of the children currently diagnosed with ADHD may be simply misdiagnosed. The diagnostic tests for ADHD are somewhat vague, and different doctors have different diagnostic rates applied to the children they look at. Some doctors may diagnose a child with ADHD who another doctor would simply label as “high-spirited.”

Some theories postulate that the changes in the United States public school system could also be a factor. Today’s children are encouraged to move forward in gade no matter their current schooling ability. Giving reluctant children medication to help steady their nerves and pay attention in school is one way to help children progress to the next grade level as part of the “No Child Left Behind” program implemented in 2002.

In some cases, teaching to the lower half of the class may leave fast learners bored, which could also contribute to their acting out in class. In fact, an article published in the Las Vegas Guardian in 2013 predicts that the diagnosis of ADHD will continue to rise in response to the new Common Core curriculum standards.

A study from 2010 conducted by Michigan State University examined when a child’s birthday took place in the calendar year with the rate of diagnosis for ADHD. The study found that children who were the youngest in the class were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD- whether the child actually met all the clinical signs or not. The researchers estimated that about 20 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD may simply have developmental delays due to their younger age or a different genetic development rate rather than true ADHD.

When is ADHD Real?

According to brain research, children with real ADHD have a brain that develops differently than other children. A 2003 study found that children with ADHD have higher levels of glutamate in the brain, which contributes to activity, and lower levels of GABA, which regulates inhibition.

The National Institute of Mental Health states that children with ADHD have about a 3-year developmental delay in mental cognition and ability compared to children without ADHD.

A 2009 study from the University of Queensland on the brains of children with ADHD versus children without ADHD showed that children with ADHD have a greater amount of fractional anisotropy (FA) in the white-matter sections of the brain, which could cause some of the developmental delays seen in children with ADHD.

If children have these signs, then they probably have true ADHD. 


There is some evidence that children with ADHD are more sensitive to gluten than children without ADHD. A 2011 study conducted by the Psychiatric Hospital of Rodewisch found that children with ADHD were also more likely to have celiac disease (which is a gluten intolerance).

According to the study, children with ADHD can benefit greatly from a gluten-free diet. The researchers suggested that all children with ADHD try a gluten-free diet for several months to determine if gluten sensitivity is the root of their attention problems. For best results, avoid gluten for about 3-4 months before making your final decision on whether you should keep gluten out of your child’s lunch box.

Pesticides and Chemical Exposure

Many studies have linked chemicals and pesticides to attention disorders.

A study from 2006 found that exposure to lead or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can also lead to ADHD symptoms. Many commonly-used pesticides are also linked to attention problems in children. The herbicide glyphosate is one herbicide linked to attention problems and behavior problems. This compound makes it harder for your body to remove foreign chemical compounds, which means that your body is less able to protect itself from other dangerous chemicals.

A 2010 study published in “Pediatrics” looked at the link between the exposure of children to organophosphate pesticides and their risk for developing ADHD. The chemicals are designed to attack the same chemicals in the brain that are responsible for controlling ADHD symptoms. In the study, children with the highest concentration of organophosphates in their urine were over twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

The ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids in our foods should be 1:1. However, due to recent farming practices, the meat we consume typically has a 1:20 ratio of Omega 3's to Omega 6's. The imbalance can have some negative consequences. Studies have shown that children who are deficient in healthier omega-3 fat are more likely to have learning difficulties and ADHD symptoms.

A study from 2007 conducted by Barry University gave fish oil supplements to adults with ADHD. The participants who took the fish oil improved their concentration rates by 60 percent after upping their omega-3 fatty acid intake for 6 months. They also had improved planning and social skills. Some research has suggested that humans need at least twice as many omega 3 fats like omega 6 fats, but the average American has about 20 times or more omega 6 fats than omega 3 fats in their blood.

Food Additives

Many of the food additives found in children’s food products are linked with an increase in attention problems. This link is so clear, in fact, that many countries have banned the use of these additives in food products sold in those countries.

A 2007 study published in “The Lancet” found that intake of the following ingredients was linked to attention problems:

Suspect Food Additives
  • Blue #1 and #2
  • Green #3
  • Orange B
  • Red #3 and #40
  • Yellow #5 and #6
  • Sodium benzoate


Of course, you already know that sugar causes hyperactivity. Anyone who has been around a child for more than a day or two can easily tell that flooding a child’s system with sugar is a bad idea.

Sadly, most children today eat a diet high in sugar from multiple sources. Whether it is actual sugar from sodas and candy or sugar from glucose contained in many bread products, today’s children are eating more sugar than ever. Even food items like soup and some vegetables contain high levels of sugar.

Sugar consumption causes the body to release high levels of insulin, which can then cause blood sugar crashes. Sugar crashes cause the brain to produce more glutamate, which results in hyperactivity and other symptoms of ADHD.

In fact, children with ADHD are more likely to have permanently high levels of glutamate, which means they may be more sensitive to sugar than other children.

The Hygiene Hypothesis

The hygiene hypothesis is the idea that today’s children are not exposed to enough beneficial bacteria. The theory goes that today’s children are “too clean,” which can be detrimental to health. In fact, not getting enough exposure to bacteria can cause a range of problems like ADHD, dyslexia, depression, and more.

According to neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, toxins that are not removed from the intestines by beneficial bacteria can quickly travel to the brain and cause the mental problems stated above.

Stopping ADHD At the Source

Even if it is not possible to completely cure true ADHD, eliminating the foods and chemicals that make ADHD worse will improve the symptoms in any child. Additionally, providing children with supplements that balance the level of hormones and chemicals in the brain that contribute to ADHD can help children reduce their ADHD symptoms.

The following steps are easy things you can do to improve ADHD symptoms in your children or even yourself if you suspect you have ADHD tendencies yourself.

Avoid Food Additives and Pesticides

The easiest way to avoid food additives and pesticides is by avoiding processed foods altogether. Organically-grown foods are less likely to have pesticides and herbicides. Look for sneaky sources of sugar in foods, which are present in many of the pre-prepared foods available at grocery stores. If you want to avoid extra sugar and food additives, purchase organic food from the produce and meat sections, and prepare it yourself.

Boost Your Gut Health

Probiotics can help restore the intestinal barrier that fights toxins. Give your child a probiotic supplement daily, and provide a variety of fermented foods for him or her to eat. Fermented foods like kefir, fermented vegetables, fermented beverages, and unpasteurized yogurt are all healthy sources of probiotics that children love to eat.

Remove Environmental Chemicals

When possible, try to avoid chemicals at home as well. Do not use commercial pesticides, cleaning products, detergents, or gardening products. It is easier to find natural cleaning products and household products in health food stores. You can also make your own version of many of these items.

Supplement for Mental Health

Studies show that supplementing with the following ingredients can help improve ADHD symptoms in individuals of any age:

GABA: Studies show that children with ADHD are deficient in GABA. Boosting GABA levels can help improve ADHD symptoms and help control impulsive behavior in children with ADHD.

Omega 3s: As the above study stated, supplementing with omega 3s can cut down on ADHD symptoms at any age. Avoiding vegetable oils will also help create the right fatty acid balance.

Zinc, Magnesium, Copper, Calcium, and Iron: Children with ADHD are often deficient in these vital minerals. Children who supplement with these minerals show reduced ADHD symptoms.

Huperzine A: This compound has been shown to boost mental activity and clarity in a variety of ways. Supplementing with Huperzine A has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function in human and animal studies.

Avoid Gluten

Since some studies have linked gluten intolerance with ADHD, it can’t hurt to try avoiding gluten for a while to see if it benefits your child. There are also gluten sensitivity tests you can take to determine if gluten could be something your child cannot tolerate.

ADHD Today: A Complicated Issue

There are many possibilities for why today’s children have more attention problems than ever. Some say the issue is purely due to a lack of discipline among children, but most parents with children who have ADHD do not believe this theory. There is a definite difference between children with ADHD and children without. The environment, diet, chemicals, and surrounding pesticides may all contribute to a child’s ADHD.

Luckily, there are just as many natural methods to cure ADHD that do not require drugging young children. Before you offer medications to your children, try implementing the methods outlined above first. You may be surprised at how a few simple changes can improve the behavior, mood, and happiness of your child.





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