ADHD is a syndrome manifested mainly by hyperactivity and inattentiveness. It affects as many as 10% of boys in the U.S., and perhaps 3% of girls. Children are usually diagnosed during the first few years in school, although it is often believed that they have suffered from the condition since birth. Increasingly, treatment involves a prescription of Ritalin, a drug that has been shown to be effective in calming them down and improving attention span, often leading to higher grades at school. The syndrome was not even listed in the first edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) issued in 1968, but appeared in the second edition, released in 1980. During the intervening period, the message that dietary fats are harmful to health first made its appearance .
I agree with Peter Breggin when he claims in his book Talking back to Ritalin that long term Ritalin use will likely lead to many dire consequences down the road. However, he also claims that ADHD is a fake disease, concocted purely to stuff the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry executives. I try to imagine what it would be like to be a parent of an ADHD child, reading that ADHD is caused purely by social influences -- that the inattentiveness and hyperactivity are due to a dysfunctional family life and/or an unstimulating school environment. I am reminded of the time when autism was blamed on poor parenting. A mother who has done everything she can to create a nurturing environment but has seen no improvement in her child's symptoms must feel very besieged, frustrated, and discouraged.
I believe that ADHD is a real syndrome with a strong genetic component. However, I have argued that the genetic aspect is manifested as a greater susceptibility to brain dysfunction as a consequence of insufficient fats in the diet. This includes the diet of both the child and the mother while she carried the child to term, and while she nursed the child. I believe that symptoms will improve slowly over time if the child's diet is simply adjusted to include more meats, eggs, fish, and high-fat dairy, while minimizing the consumption of empty carbs.
Unfortunately, I doubt that the symptoms will ever go away entirely, especially if the child is already a teenager by the time the change is implemented. I do not know how much of the damage in neural connections in the brain and nervous system can be repaired long after critical developmental milestones have passed. However, children's brains have been shown to be remarkably resilient after brain injury, so we can hope that significant improvement can take place over time. Of course "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Anyone who is thinking of starting a family would be wise to change their diet in anticipation of the coming pregnancy -- to stop worrying about the mistaken belief that animal fats are unhealthy, and switch to high-fat dairy, meats, fish, and eggs instead of sugar-laden drinks and starchy foods.
I find it impossible to blame the mother for the problem -- she is only executing on both subliminal and overt messages claiming that dietary fat is unhealthy and will lead to obesity and heart disease. She is trying her best to provide her child with a healthy diet according to strong advice from both the U.S. government and the American medical establishment. I therefore expect ADHD to persist unabated in the U.S. until the authoritarian figures finally recognize and acknowledge their error, and change their tune regarding dietary fat. It is very disturbing to think of how many years it may take for them to own up to the huge mistake they have made by advocating low-fat diet, and the enormous anguish it has caused.