My child sustained a brain injury as an infant of 10 months. Do brain injuries early in childhood cause ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder)? What is the best information we have on that?
A: Early brain injuries have not been shown to cause ADHD. However, child victims of brain injury in early childhood are 90 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD later. With such a high correlation, many people think that brain injuries do cause ADHD, but in this case, the correlation does not indicate that brain injuries cause ADHD.
The truth is that children with ADHD behave more recklessly and therefore are more likely to injure themselves. For example, children with other injuries, especially burns, are also more likely than other children to be diagnosed with ADHD. So it’s not the injury that causes the attention disorder, it’s the ADHD that causes the injuries.