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Prenatal and Early Life Risk Factors of ADHD: What Research Says — and What Parents Can Do

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Is ADHD caused by birth trauma? Do prenatal complications increase a child’s risk for ADHD? What role do exposures during pregnancy and infancy play in the development of ADHD?

These are all important — and difficult-to-answer — questions about the causes of ADHD that parents ask frequently.From lead exposure and maternal stress during pregnancy to low birth weight, the list of prenatal and perinatal risk factors associated with ADHD seems to grow longer and longer with ongoing research.

But there is much left to learn. The causal role of many exposures linked to ADHD is unclear; some appear to be artifacts of ADHD’s genetic element, while others are truly causal contributors.

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