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Are you born with ADHD?

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Apr 29, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

Table of contents

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, is a psychological disorder associated with a lack of focus and impulsive behavior. Many people’s ADHD symptoms are recognized and diagnosed in childhood, But many people go untreated and undiagnosed for most of their lives. But, are you born with ADHD? Or it is something you develop?

In this article, we provide an overview of ADHD, explain the different types of ADHD, break down the myths about what causes the disorder, and answer questions surrounding ADHD. 

On Klarity, connect with a licensed professional with the experience and expertise to diagnose and treat ADHD. Find a provider and book an online or in-person appointment today.

Overview of ADHD

There’s really no definitive answer to whether you’re born with or develop ADHD, as its cause has not been found. Until there’s direct medical evidence showing what causes it, it’s difficult to determine if ADHD is due to nature or nurture. What’s known is that genetics play a significant role, although how significant is up for debate. 

If an identical twin sibling, for example, has ADHD, their identical sibling is 92% more likely to have the disorder. Non-identical (fraternal) twins share ADHD at a much lower rate of 33%, suggesting that ADHD may have a strong genetic component. 

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Types of ADHD

Hyperactive ADHD

If you have hyperactive-dominant ADHD, you may have 5 to 6 of the following symptoms that occur frequently:

  • Fidgeting, tapping, squirming
  • Inability to stay seated
  • Constant energy: running, climbing furniture
  • Inability to play quietly
  • Talking frequently without pause
  • Talking over people, blurting out answers
  • Impatient, inability to wait for their turn
  • Interrupting or intruding often

Inattentive ADHD

If you suffer from the inattentive-dominant form of ADHD, you likely have 5 to 6 of the following symptoms:

  • Inability to pay close attention
  • Trouble listening for extended periods of time
  • Trouble listening when spoken to
  • Inability to follow through with tasks or complete a project
  • Organizational issues: messy, late for appointments, losing common items
  • Avoiding tasks that require sustained focus, such as filling out forms 
  • Easy distractibility
  • Frequently forgetting things

Combination ADHD

If you struggle with a combination of both hyperactive and inattentive forms of ADHD, you have a mixture of symptoms from both types. 

Myths about what causes ADHD

Because medical researchers have yet to find the exact cause of ADHD, there are many myths about ADHD and where it comes from, how it starts, and what kind of behaviors make it better or worse.

External causes

Poor diet

For a long time, the medical community thought a poor diet loaded with sugar and processed foods may be the culprit in worsening and even causing ADHD symptoms. A 2019 study found that children with ADHD may be more likely to have unhealthy diets, but no direct correlation between unhealthy diets and the root causes of ADHD symptoms has yet to be found. 

Excessive screen time

While some studies have shown that a reduction or increase in screen time can lead to significant changes in brain function, there’s yet to be any correlation between too much screen time and ADHD. 

Potential causes of ADHD

If you’re trying to determine if you were born with ADHD, it’s important to note that scientists and medical professionals have yet to find the exact reason why ADHD manifests or how or when the disorder appears. The following are suspected causes for ADHD and don’t represent any direct causality or correlations.

Brain function

Some studies suggest that as a sufferer of ADHD, you may have an imbalance in your brain’s neurochemistry. Other studies suggest these neurochemicals may not be working properly if you have ADHD. Further research is still needed to validate whether these are primary factors, contributing factors, or altogether invalid as casualties of ADHD.

Brain structure

If you have ADHD, your brain is structurally different from the brains of people without the disorder. Brain scan studies suggest that certain areas of the brain may be smaller if you have ADHD, while other areas may appear larger. It’s still unknown whether these areas are significant in having ADHD.

Brain injury

Approximately 300,000 children each year are treated for traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Researchers who want to understand the longer-term effects of TBI on children are studying brain plasticity and how it affects adults with past brain trauma. A 2018 cohort study that followed 187 children between the ages of 3 and 7 with TBI discovered that 62% of the children developed ADHD as compared to 15% of their peers without TBI.

Additional studies have shown that children with severe TBI who later developed ADHD began showing symptoms within 18 months of the brain injury. Children with mild or moderate TBI began showing signs of ADHD within 6 years of the injury. 

One more interesting thing to note: if you have ADHD after suffering a TBI, you have a similar brain structure volume to those with genetically-attributed ADHD. The differences between the 2 occur in the connections between the brain hemispheres. This finding suggests that different events can lead to different manifestations of ADHD, or that TBI-related ADHD may be a different disorder altogether.


Genetics seems to contribute to the likelihood of an ADHD diagnosis: 3 out of 4 children with ADHD share the disorder with someone in their family. It’s thought that genes inherited from parents are a significant factor in being diagnosed with ADHD. Past research has shown that parents and siblings of ADHD sufferers are more likely to have symptoms of the disorder.

Premature birth

A 2018 JAMA Pediatrics study revealed that early premature birth, for example, children born before the gestational age of 34 weeks, may result in higher levels of ADHD symptoms in preschool and school-age children. The study found that genetic and environmental factors didn’t account for the level of ADHD symptoms in the children assessed, suggesting that early-term birth may play a factor in the intensity of ADHD symptoms. 

If you suspect you have ADHD, Klarity can help

If you suspect you may have ADHD but don’t have a professional diagnosis, Klarity can connect you with a healthcare provider within 48 hours. 

Book an appointment with ADHD experts and learn about your treatment options.


Can you develop ADHD as an adult?

It’s difficult to say whether you can develop ADHD as an adult because medical researchers aren’t sure when ADHD starts. If you’re diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, you may have had the disorder your entire life but failed to notice the symptoms or be properly diagnosed. 

Does ADHD go away?

The short answer is no. ADHD is a mental disorder that currently has no cure, but even the most intense symptoms can be managed with the proper medication and treatment. Medications like Vyvanse, Adderall, and Ritalin may help alleviate your major symptoms and let you function more normally.

How is ADHD diagnosed?

As an adult, ADHD is diagnosed during consultation with a medical professional who reviews your medical history and asks a series of questions about potential symptoms. For children, questionnaires and observations from family and teachers help determine if the child has ADHD, along with medical exams to rule ing out other factors.


ADDitude, “Is The Rate of ADHD Higher in Children Born Prematurely?” Sweta Gupta, June 28, 2018,

APSARD, “Study Finds Traumatic Brain Injuries, Even Mild Ones, Increase Risk of ADHD,” Joel L. Young, November 12, 2018,,of%20the%20non%2DTBI%20cohort.

Psychology Today, “Does Excessive Screen Time Cause ADHD?” Phil Reed, June 22, 2019,

WebMD, “ADHD in Children: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment,” Dean Shaban, November 15, 2023,

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