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Can Lifestyle Interventions Reduce the Risk of Children Developing ADHD?

November 12, 2020

(Part 4 of 4)

In this video, Psych Congress 2020 cochair Vladimir Maletic, MD, MS, discusses whether lifestyle interventions can help reduce the risk of children developing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dr. Maletic is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville, and spoke at the Psych Congress 2020 psychopharmacology preconference on "ADHD Across the Lifespan: How Neurobiology Informs Our Treatment Choice."


Read the transcript:

What a wonderful question, because the focus in treatment of ADHD has mostly been on pharmacotherapy and some on psychotherapeutic intervention. Unfortunately, the value of prevention has been understated for a long time.

We do have some very encouraging news. There has been a large study conducted in Canada, involved over 3400 individuals. Again, these were youngsters age 10 and 11. They were prospectively followed until age 14.

Several lifestyle recommendations were in place. They were encouraged to eat more vegetable and fruit, to, in some ways, modify intake of milk and alternatives, to eat more grain products, to limit red meat, to have less added sugar and saturated fat in their diet, increase physical activity.

Screen time recommendation would be hard to bear for many teenagers. It was 2 hours or less of screen time a day. Of course, it was encouraged that they sleep at least 9 hours.

Some very, very interesting findings that came from this study. In the course of approximately 3‑year follow‑up, a little bit more than 10 percent of these individuals ended up developing ADHD, but the part that was very intriguing is that individuals who followed only 1 to 3 recommendations developed ADHD at double the rate of individuals who followed 7 to 9 recommendations.

The more adherent one can be to this lifestyle can actually cut emergence of ADHD in half over a 3‑year period of observation. Indeed, this is a very interesting and encouraging finding, suggesting that some relatively simple lifestyle...I'm saying lifestyle interventions are simple. Adherence is a different issue.

Both youngsters and especially their parents or guardians need to be invested in this process, but it can make a very substantial difference in terms of developing ADHD.


More with Dr. Maletic:
Emerging Treatment Approaches for ADHD
Updates in Adult-Onset ADHD
Treating Comorbidities in Patients With ADHD


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