Risk Factors for Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive attachment disorder is considered uncommon. It can affect kids of any race or either sex. By definition, reactive attachment disorder begins before age 5, although its roots start in infancy.

Several risk factors can contribute to the occurrence of reactive attachment disorder.

Parental or caregiver related risk factors:
  • Aggressive behavior towards kids when they request comfort
  • Being abused, neglect, and abandonment by primary caregivers
  • Being raised by parents with different psychological conditions (such as unipolar or bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, substance abuse, anger management problems, or attachment disorder)
  • Forced removal from a neglectful home
  • Frequent changes in foster care or caregivers
  • Inexperienced parents that provide inconsistent or inappropriate care
  • Maternal ambivalence toward pregnancy

Child related risk factors:
  • Being separated from parents/caregivers due to prolong hospitalization
  • Difficult temperament
  • Premature birth
  • Suffering a birth or prenatal trauma
  • Suffering from painful or undiagnosed illnesses

Environment related risk factors:
  • Being separated from birth parents as the result of divorce, death, or serious illnesses
  • Extreme poverty
  • Frequent changes in foster care or caregivers
  • Living in orphanages
  • Significant family trauma, such as death or divorce


Without treatment for reactive attachment disorder, a kid's social and emotional development may be permanently affected.

Complications and related conditions may include:
  • Academic problems
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying or being bullied
  • Depression
  • Developmental delays
  • Drug and alcohol addiction
  • Eating problems
  • Growth delays
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Lack of empathy
  • Malnutrition
  • Relationship problems in adulthood
  • Temper or anger problems
  • Trouble relating to classmates or peers
  • Unemployment or frequent job changes

==> Parenting Defiant RAD Teens

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