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Thursday, 23 February 2017

ADHD: nature, nurture and Wi-Fi

On 15 February 2017, the medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry published a study with an answer to the question if ADHD is caused by nature or nurture. An international research team, part of the ENIGMA global scientific network, conducted the largest brain imaging study of its kind.

Despite of what many people still assume, ADHD is caused by nature rather than nurtureWP: "The common disorder, they conclude, should be considered a problem of delayed brain maturation and not, as it is often portrayed, a problem of motivation or parenting." 

The study reveals that ADHD is linked to brain maturation delay theory, and especially in children. WP: "The smaller brain structures in children with ADHD but not in adults fits with a “delayed peak volume” theory that ADHD is associated with an “altered velocity of cortical development,” the authors said. That is, their brain development may be delayed compared with children who do not have ADHD, but it may catch up as they grow into adulthood."

To be honest, I have always blamed parenting (ie, nurture) because ADHD wasn't a problem when I was young. This study now calls ADHD a brain disease (ie, nature). A Dutch critic of this study however refers to the many links of the researchers with the pharmaceutical industry.

The study answers several questions: whatwhen and how but not why. Technology springs to mind when it comes to why. Without a shadow of a doubt, the rise of technology is the biggest change since my youth. I still remember the year 1980, in which I was flabbergasted to see a man walking in Amsterdam, while using a mobile radio phone and carrying a huge battery, strapped to his shoulder (picture). Back then, I thought it was a ridiculous sight. 

Perhaps the biggest technology changes since the 1980s are mobile communication and Wifi. Both use low level microwave radiation. Unlike microwaves, radiation from Wifi is constant. Young children may not yet use mobile phones but Wifi is nearly everywhere where they go (eg, house, school). The health risks associated with wireless radiation are part of a contentious debate and even the fine print of mobile phones warns its users.

In 2012, Dr. Robert BlockPresident of the American Academy of Pediatrics was quoted in TIME Magazine: “Children, however, are not little adults and are disproportionately impacted by all environmental exposures, including cell phone radiation. In fact, according to the International Agency for the Research on Cancer, when used by children, the average RF (radiofrequency) energy deposition is two times higher in the brain and 10 times higher in the bone marrow of the skull, compared with mobile phone use by adults.” (IARC source)

Subsequent research (eg, ScienceDirect) was even more devastating, culminating in a NetworkWorld op-ed called "Is Wi-Fi killing us ........ slowly?" Its closing question is confronting: "Will we look back (sadly) in fifty or a hundred years and marvel at how Wi-Fi and cellphones were responsible for the biggest health crisis in human history?" (Forbes)

Teach Your Children (1970) by CSN&Y - artists, lyrics, song, Wiki-1, Wiki-2