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ADHD may have genetic underpinnings

Compelling new research released Thursday shows that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- ADHD -- may have genetic underpinnings. Reporting in the British medical journal The Lancet, scientists at Cardiff University in Wales found that people with certain genetic makeups may be more likely to have the disorder.

Researchers compared the number of chromosomal deletions or duplications -- known as "copy number variants" or CNVs -- in certain genetic sequences in children diagnosed with ADHD and those without the disorder. They found CNVs to be twice as common among the children with ADHD. Moreover, the CNVs occurred at spots along the genetic sequence previously associated with autism and schizophrenia, which suggests that the disorders may share a common biological background.

The findings may one day lead to a treatment or even a way to prevent ADHD. But for now, they may simply help parents, teachers, and everyone else who encounters kids with ADHD -- not to mention the kids themselves -- understand that the condition may be a manifestation of genetics, not just a matter of watching too much TV, eating the wrong foods or receiving too little discipline.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | September 30, 2010; 3:22 PM ET
Categories:  ADHD  
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Great, this is just another reason for people to be biased... I want to thank these researchers for nothing.

Posted by: Nymous | October 1, 2010 4:08 AM | Report abuse

Did a pharmaceutical company fund this study? ADHD is probably quite rare. There are too many parents and teachers who don't want to be bothered with normal active children, and just want them to be quiet, medicated little zombies. Its an outrage.

Posted by: AnnsThought | October 1, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

The study examined two groups of children: those who met diagnostic criteria for ADHD, those who didn't. 14% of the children who met ADHD symptom criteria had abnormal chromosomes, 7% of children who do not meet symptom criteria also had similar abnormal chromosomes. Significant-yes, as an avenue of further study. However, the evidence also shows that 86% of children who met ADHD symptom criteria DO NOT have abnormal chromosones, compared to 93% of non ADHD children. It's one clue and not a very convincing argument yet that ADHD is purely a genetic condition. It may be that there are many subtypes of the disorder and this also likely points out that our methods of diagnosing the condition at this time may be more than inadequate. The one conclusion that is clear: these results do nothing to further support the use of stimulants as the definitive treatment for the disorder. The evidence so far suggests that medication can be helpful for some time for the "core symptoms" of ADHD, but the safest and perhaps as effective treatment in the longer run is consistent behavioral management treatment.

Posted by: danebyers1 | October 1, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

The study was NOT sponsored by drug companies. it was sponsored by the Wellcome Foundation, an inependent research body using their own funds.

The researchers did not dismiss that other factors came into play with ADHD.

All they announced was that they had found a statistically significant link between a certain set of genes and the prevalence of ADHD.

There are are portions of gene sequences still to be studied.

All they have said is that ADHD does appear to be genetic in SOME cases.

Posted by: knellerman | October 1, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

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