ADHD and Diabeties

The children of parents who have type 1 diabetes are at a greater risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a study has suggested.
While the findings indicate an association between the two conditions, there is no evidence to explain this link, and further research is planned.
Scientists from the Center for Primary Health Care Research at Lund University in Sweden identified more than 15,600 children who all had parents with type 1 diabetes. Their health outcomes were then compared to a group of 1,380,829 young people who did not have the condition in the family.
They discovered the ADHD risk was 29 per cent higher among children who had a parent with type 1 diabetes compared to the group where diabetes did not exist.
Just like type 1 diabetes, ADHD is often identified in childhood between the ages of six and 12. No one can yet explain exactly why the condition develops, but it is believed being born prematurely, having a low birthweight and the mother smoking, taking drugs or drinking large quantities of alcohol during pregnancy might contribute toward the diagnosis.
Currently there is no cure for the condition, but it can be managed with medication and appropriate educational support for both the parent and the child.
Boys were more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls and the risk of the condition increased if it already existed in the family.
The researchers wrote: “An important strength of this study is that it is a nationwide study, and the number of individuals with a parental diagnosis of [type 1 diabetes] is large enough so that we have sufficient study power to look at associations.
“All data were retrieved from Swedish registers that are of high quality and have national coverage. The prospective study design and the completeness of the follow-up of patients are other major advantages of the current study.”
The findings appear online in Diabetes Care.

ADHD in Children

What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a condition that affects your child’s behavior. Your child may be overactive and have a short attention span. ADHD may make it difficult for him or her to do well at home or in school. He or she may also have problems getting along with other people. ADHD usually starts before age 12 and is more common among boys. The exact cause of ADHD is not known.

What increases my child’s risk for ADHD?

  • Being born prematurely or with a low birth weight
  • A family history of ADHD
  • His or her mother smoked cigarettes or used alcohol or illegal drugs during pregnancy
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as lead in paint
  • A head injury, possibly during his or her birth
  • Learning and memory problems, depression, or another condition that affects how he or she thinks

What are the signs and symptoms of ADHD in children?

ADHD has 2 main types, inattention and hyperactivity (including being impulsive). Each type has 9 possible symptoms. Your child may have more symptoms of one type, or a combination of the 2 types. A combination is most common. Your child may do any of the following:

  • Inattention:
    • Not pay attention to details
    • Not keep his or her focus
    • Seem like he or she is not listening when spoken to
    • Not finish tasks or follow instructions, such as not finishing homework
    • Have trouble getting or staying organized
    • Avoid or not like activities that need full attention
    • Lose items
    • Get easily distracted
    • Forget things
  • Hyperactivity and impulsivity:
    • Fidget or squirm
    • Have trouble sitting still and often leave his or her chair when sitting is required
    • Run or climb all the time
    • Have trouble playing quietly
    • Always seem to be on the go or driven by a motor
    • Talk more than other children his or her age
    • Start to give answers even before the question has been asked fully
    • Have trouble waiting and taking turns
    • Interrupt others who are talking

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Healthcare providers use a guide to diagnose ADHD. The guide contains the signs and symptoms of ADHD from the 2 types. You, your child’s teachers, or your child may be given a rating scale that contains all 18 symptoms. The scale has a place to mark if each symptom has been noticed in your child. It can also be used to record how much each symptom stops your child from doing his or her daily activities. Your younger child must have at least 6 out of 9 symptoms from at least one of the types. Your adolescent must have at least 5 out of 9 symptoms from at least one of the types. At any age, your child must have symptoms for at least 6 months that are not caused by other problems. These symptoms must be severe enough to cause problems in 2 or more settings, such as home and school. Some symptoms must be present before the age of 12.

How is ADHD treated?

The goal of treatment is to help your child learn how to control his or her behavior. Healthcare providers will also work with you to help you learn to cope with your child’s ADHD. A combination of therapy and medication is usually most effective for treating ADHD.

  • Behavior therapy is used to teach your child how to control his or her actions and improve his or her behavior. This is done by teaching him or her how to change behavior by looking at the results of his or her actions.
  • Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. Your child may have one-on-one visits with a therapist or with others in a group setting.
  • Stimulants help your child pay attention, concentrate better, and manage his or her energy.
  • Antidepressants help decrease or prevent depression or anxiety. It can also be used to treat other behavior problems.

What can I do to support my child?

  • Be patient with your child. Try to stop his or her behavior problems quickly so they do not get out of control. It will not help to yell at your child to get him or her to behave. Stay calm and be direct. Always give him or her eye contact and explain why the behavior needs to stop. Try to be patient as your child learns new ways to behave well.
  • Praise your child for good behavior. Children often respond better to praise than to criticism. It may be helpful to set up a reward system with your child. For example, your child can earn points or tokens for good behavior to exchange for something he or she wants.
  • Help your child understand tasks he or she needs to do. Make eye contact with your child and give him or her 1 task. Let your child complete the task before you give him or her a new task. Work with his or her teachers to make sure you know what homework is assigned and when it is due. Your child may need to start working on assignments well before they are due. He or she may need to work for short periods at a time. A homework notebook can help your child keep track of assignments and make sure he or she turns in the work.
  • Help your child manage stress. Stress may make your child’s ADHD worse. Teach your child how to control stress. Ask about ways to calm his or her body and mind. These may include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, music, and biofeedback. Have your child talk to someone about things that upset him or her.
  • Feed your child healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, lean meat, and fish. Healthy foods may help your child feel better. Your child’s healthcare provider may want your child to follow a special diet or one that is low in fat. Your child should drink water, juices, and milk. Limit the amount of caffeine your child drinks. Limit foods that are high in sugar, such as candy. Sugar and caffeine may make ADHD symptoms worse.
  • Create a schedule for your child. Put the schedule in a place where your child can see it. The schedule should include a regular time to go to bed and get up in the morning. Do not let your child watch TV, use the computer, or play video games before bed. Electronic devices can make it hard for your child to go to sleep or stay asleep. During the day, create homework, play, chore, and rest times for your child. Your child may have an easier time remembering to do things if he or she follows a schedule. Try not to schedule too many activities for a day or week. Your child needs quiet time along with scheduled activities.

Call your local emergency number (999 in the UK) for any of the following:

  • Your child has hurt himself or herself, or someone else.
  • You feel like hurting your child.

When should I call my child’s doctor?

  • You feel you cannot help your child at home.
  • Your child’s ADHD prevents him or her from doing most of his or her daily activities.
  • Your child has new symptoms since the last time he or she visited the healthcare provider.
  • Your child’s symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child’s condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child’s care. Learn about your child’s health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child’s healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

What Is ADHD?

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common mental disorders affecting children. ADHD also affects many adults. Symptoms of ADHD include inattention (not being able to keep focus), hyperactivity (excess movement that is not fitting to the setting) and impulsivity (hasty acts that occur in the moment without thought).

An estimated 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults have ADHD.1,2 ADHD is often first identified in school-aged children when it leads to disruption in the classroom or problems with schoolwork. It can also affect adults. It is more common among boys than girls.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Many ADHD symptoms, such as high activity levels, difficulty remaining still for long periods of time and limited attention spans, are common to young children in general. The difference in children with ADHD is that their hyperactivity and inattention are noticeably greater than expected for their age and cause distress and/or problems functioning at home, at school or with friends.

ADHD is diagnosed as one of three types: inattentive type, hyperactive/impulsive type or combined type. A diagnosis is based on the symptoms that have occurred over the past six months.

Inattentive type – six (or five for people over 17 years) of the following symptoms occur frequently:

  • Doesn’t pay close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school or job tasks.
  • Has problems staying focused on tasks or activities, such as during lectures, conversations or long reading.
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to (i.e., seems to be elsewhere).
  • Does not follow through on instructions and doesn’t complete schoolwork, chores or job duties (may start tasks but quickly loses focus).
  • Has problems organizing tasks and work (for instance, does not manage time well; has messy, disorganized work; misses deadlines).
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks that require sustained mental effort, such as preparing reports and completing forms.
  • Often loses things needed for tasks or daily life, such as school papers, books, keys, wallet, cell phone and eyeglasses.
  • Is easily distracted.
  • Forgets daily tasks, such as doing chores and running errands. Older teens and adults may forget to return phone calls, pay bills and keep appointments.

Hyperactive/impulsive type – six (or five for people over 17 years) of the following symptoms occur frequently:

  • Fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • Not able to stay seated (in classroom, workplace).
  • Runs about or climbs where it is inappropriate.
  • Unable to play or do leisure activities quietly.
  • Always “on the go,” as if driven by a motor.
  • Talks too much.
  • Blurts out an answer before a question has been finished (for instance may finish people’s sentences, can’t wait to speak in conversations).
  • Has difficulty waiting his or her turn, such as while waiting in line.
  • Interrupts or intrudes on others (for instance, cuts into conversations, games or activities, or starts using other people’s things without permission). Older teens and adults may take over what others are doing.

There is no lab test to diagnose ADHD. Diagnosis involves gathering information from parents, teachers and others, filling out checklists and having a medical evaluation (including vision and hearing screening) to rule out other medical problems. The symptoms are not the result of person being defiant or hostile or unable to understand a task or instructions.

The Causes of ADHD

Scientists have not yet identified the specific causes of ADHD. There is evidence that genetics contribute to ADHD. For example, three out of four children with ADHD have a relative with the disorder. Other factors that may contribute to the development of ADHD include being born prematurely, brain injury and the mother smoking, using alcohol or having extreme stress during pregnancy.

ADHD and the School-Aged Child

Teachers and school staff can provide parents and doctors with information to help evaluate behavior and learning problems, and can assist with behavioral training. However, school staff cannot diagnose ADHD, make decisions about treatment or require that a student take medication to attend school. Only parents and guardians can make those decisions with the child’s physician.

Students whose ADHD impairs their learning may qualify for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or for a Section 504 plan (for children who do not require special education) under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Children with ADHD can benefit from study skills instruction, changes to the classroom setup, alternative teaching techniques and a modified curriculum.

ADHD and Adults

Many adults with ADHD do not realize they have the disorder. A comprehensive evaluation typically includes a review of past and current symptoms, a medical exam and history, and use of adult rating scales or checklists. Adults with ADHD are treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination. Behaviour management strategies, such as ways to minimize distractions and increase structure and organization, and involving immediate family members can also be helpful.