Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the behaviour or development of young children.

A child’s normal attention span usually develops in three stages:

  1. Focusing on only one object for a very long time.
  2. Developing a wide but rapid attention span.
  3. Selective attention stage where the child can willingly shift their focus. This last stage is crucial for the child to succeed in a classroom setting.

Children with ADHD show persistent signs of inability to sustain focus or inattention, and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviour. Many children with ADHD could not explain why they might feel out of control sometimes or very lonely. ADHD often lasts into adulthood.

What Are the Risk Factors of ADHD?

The risk factors of ADHD include both biological and environmental factors.

Biological factors include:

  • Gender: ADHD is more common in boys than girls, and children with ADHD start to develop symptoms before they turn seven years of age.
  • Hereditary: Studies involving families with individuals diagnosed with ADHD have shown a higher likelihood of the disorder occurring among close relatives, such as parents and siblings. This suggests a genetic linkage.

Environmental factors include:

  • Prenatal factors: Pre-pregnancy maternal obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes during pregnancy, smoking, drug, and alcohol use during pregnancy.
  • Perinatal factors: Pre-term birth and low birth weight.
  • Traumatic brain injury: Head trauma.
  • Others: Lead poisoning.

Note: Preschool children with more than 2-hours of screen time per day have an increased risk of ADHD.

What Are the Symptoms of ADHD?

There are three main signs associated with ADHD:

  • Inability to pay attention or concentrate on tasks at hands.
  • Being hyperactive or overactive.
  • Displaying impulsive behaviour, being short tempered, and prone to accidents.

These symptoms therefore lead to the child facing challenges in behavioural control, interpersonal relationships, academic performance, and personal issues.

  • Academic
    • Learning disabilities and not doing well at school.
  • Cognitive
    • Inability to understand consequences of misbehaving.
    • Talking to themselves in a childish way.
  • Emotional
    • Depression and inability to control emotions.
    • Unpredictable moods.
  • Aggressiveness and inability to self-control.
  • Inability to follow instructions.
  • Inability to make friends.
  • Lying, stealing, and taking high risks.
  • Poor social and problem-solving abilities.

Note: Pre-schoolers (children below six years old) suspected of ADHD should be referred to a child psychiatrist or a paediatrician.

What Are the Treatment Options for ADHD?

ADHD is a chronic condition that requires long-term follow-up. The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms, functioning and learning, and to increase the child’s self-esteem and self-worth.

The treatment of ADHD may include any or a combination of the following:

  • Diet and nutrition changes to improve general health, which may help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
  • Educating the child and his/her family on behaviour change.
  • Medication to control chemical imbalance in the brain and target brain areas responsible for focusing and self-control.
  • Psychological counselling to help boost self-esteem.

It is important to note that education and psychological treatments need to be used together with medication to ensure the best outcome.

Book an Appointment at Pantai Hospitals

A dedicated and expert team of specialists at Pantai Hospital is available for consultation to provide the best care and assistance to patients through screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Get in touch with us to book an appointment with a Paediatrics specialist if you have any concerns or questions about ADHD diagnosis and treatment.

Pantai Hospital has been accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH) for its commitment to patient safety and service quality.

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