A lifelong disorder characterised by overactive behaviour, short attention span and poor concentration. It is thought to be caused by a minor abnormality that aﬀects the part of the brain that allows us to concentrate and focus on tasks. Some scientists have suggested that it may be caused by particular foods, particularly processed foods containing artiﬁcial additives, and recommend special diets. In some countries, attention deﬁcit disorder is diagnosed in up to a tenth of all children; this may reﬂect diﬀerences in paediatric practice and diagnosis rather than a real variation in prevalence of the disorder. Behaviour therapy is the main treatment. Those children with very severe symptoms of restlessness, short attention span and disturbed behaviour may respond to additional treatment with methylphenidate (Ritalin®). This is an amphetamine-like drug that is thought to stimulate the part of the brain that is not working properly. Use of this drug has, however, been controversial.
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