According to an Arab news article Saudis “suffer” from a high rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also know as ADHD. The rate in Saudi was found to be an alarming 15% (globally 3-5%).
ADHD is typically 4 times more common in boys than it is in girls. An estimated 50% of the children diagnosed with ADHD continue to have symptoms in adulthood. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002518/
The exact cause of the disorder is still unknown. The etiology of ADHD is a combination of multiple genetic and environmental factors such as: genes (estimated 70-80% of cases), food additives and preservatives, excess sugar, watching too much TV, discordant family relationships, mother’s cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse during pregancy, infections in childhood and formula-feeding of infants. .http://www.jpands.org/vol8no2/ottoboni.pdf
The high prevalence of ADHD in Saudi-Arabia does not surprise me one bit.
In fact I think it’s more of a miracle the rate is not even higher considering the circumstances children are brought up in the Kingdom.
In some places it could even be assumed the ADHD prevalence in Saudi is somewhere around 90%.
Just entering any malls children’s entertainment area at midnight and a typical scene is revealed:
A Saudi kid is frantically running around in the almost deafening noise of the fully-packed amusement area. He goes from one place to another screaming from the top of his lungs holding onto a bag of chips on one hand and an energy drink in the other. His maid has told him already 10 times they must leave but he does not seem to have heard anything. She is chasing after him while trying to feed formula to a crying baby in her arms. The kid races over to the next machine pushing over three other kids with Bebsi-colas in their hands because he could not wait for his turn. They start hitting each other and calling each other donkies while the Bebsies go flying on the floor. No ones says a thing. The father comes to pat the kid on the shoulder offering an ice cream.
It’s not the kids fault that he became this hyperactive- out-of control- junk-food eating-high on sugar- monster. It’s the parents, the environment and the society. Saudi culture has a very relaxed outlook on child upbringing. In general the child will be allowed to do most things that in the west people might see as irresponsible or might even report as child abuse. The children are not usually given strict boundaries or rules but rather left to explore and find out for themselves. High activity levels, displays of superiority and pompousness, loudness and aggression in boys are perceived as desirable traits rather than problems in the Saudi culture.
Many cases of ADHD will go undiagnosed or their conditions will get worse due to this attitude.
Factors in Saudi society that contribute to or exacerbate the exceptionally high rate of ADHD:
- inbreeding and genes (most marriages are between cousins)
- consuming foods containing high amounts of additives and preservatives
- diet rich in sugars
- children consuming energy drinks and cola drinks
- lack of sleep at NIGHT
- having maids (absence of parents)
- lack of discipline
- high prevalence of formula-fed babies
- large family sizes
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