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Attention deficit disorder (ADD), otherwise known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), usually presents itself in school-age children. Although the exact cause is unknown, ADD does seem to be hereditary. The most common indications of the disorder include inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, forgetfulness, distractibility, talking excessively and disorganization. A variety of drugs have proven successful in treating ADD, but some natural remedies, such as caffeine, may be useful as well. Research studies have shown mixed results, but most have been encouraging.

  1. Caffeine and mainstream attention deficit disorder drugs seem to affect the brain similarly. Both reduce blood flow to the brain, stimulate the release of dopamine and activate norepinephrine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, and in kids with ADD, this helps them concentrate and stay on task. Warning
  2. Low doses seem to work best for children and many studies have shown that caffeine is comparable to methylphenidate when used at low doses. There is no standard recommendation for dosage of caffeine in ADD children; the safe upper limit for children is two and a half milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Children who use high doses of synthetic ADD drugs may not benefit from switching over to caffeine as higher doses of caffeine do not seem to be as effective in controlling symptoms. One option may be cutting back on the drug while adding some caffeine to the regimen. Side Effects
  3. Caffeine and stimulants create a paradoxical effect on children with ADD: they increase concentration and decrease excessive motor activity. For those without ADD, caffeine stimulants would have the opposite effect. Also, in high doses, caffeine can exacerbate anger outbursts in children, so this is something to watch for. Speculation
  4. Caffeine is not without its side effects. Common problems with caffeine use in children include trouble sleeping, jitteriness, upset stomach, increased urination, increased blood pressure and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. The common myth about caffeine stunting a child's growth, though, is not true.
  5. Some studies indicate that ADD goes into remission when children grow up, but there is speculation that adults have simply learned to self-administer caffeine when they feel the symptoms of ADD coming on.

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Attention deficit disorder (ADD), otherwise known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), usually presents itself in school-age children. Although the exact cause is unknown, ADD does seem to be hereditary. The most common indications of the disorder include inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, forgetfulness, distractibility, talking excessively and disorganization. A variety of drugs have proven successful in treating ADD, but some natural remedies, such as caffeine, may be useful as well. Research studies have shown mixed results, but most have been encouraging.

  1. SignificanceFunction
  2. The most common treatment for ADD is synthetic stimulant medication, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) and drugs from the amphetamine and dextroamphetamine groups. Caffeine is a natural stimulant, so logic follows that caffeine should work as effectively as the synthetic drugs. Some studies show that combining synthetic drugs with caffeine may be effective as well. Dosage
  3. Caffeine and mainstream attention deficit disorder drugs seem to affect the brain similarly. Both reduce blood flow to the brain, stimulate the release of dopamine and activate norepinephrine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, and in kids with ADD, this helps them concentrate and stay on task. Warning
  4. Low doses seem to work best for children and many studies have shown that caffeine is comparable to methylphenidate when used at low doses. There is no standard recommendation for dosage of caffeine in ADD children; the safe upper limit for children is two and a half milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight. Children who use high doses of synthetic ADD drugs may not benefit from switching over to caffeine as higher doses of caffeine do not seem to be as effective in controlling symptoms. One option may be cutting back on the drug while adding some caffeine to the regimen. Side Effects
  5. Caffeine and stimulants create a paradoxical effect on children with ADD: they increase concentration and decrease excessive motor activity. For those without ADD, caffeine stimulants would have the opposite effect. Also, in high doses, caffeine can exacerbate anger outbursts in children, so this is something to watch for. Speculation
  6. Caffeine is not without its side effects. Common problems with caffeine use in children include trouble sleeping, jitteriness, upset stomach, increased urination, increased blood pressure and withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. The common myth about caffeine stunting a child's growth, though, is not true.
  7. Some studies indicate that ADD goes into remission when children grow up, but there is speculation that adults have simply learned to self-administer caffeine when they feel the symptoms of ADD coming on. For example, a person with ADD may go to work every day just to be faced with boring computer work, so he has learned to grab a cup of coffee on the way to the office to help him focus. Adults have many ways of coping with these types of problems, and caffeine intake is certainly one of them.
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Q: How much caffiene should you give your 7-year-old with ADHD?
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