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Evidence that ADHD is a genetic disorder

Evidence that ADHD is a genetic disorder

A new- first published- online study, appearing in an upcoming edition of The Lancet, providing the first direct evident that ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactive disorder) is a genetic disease.

Authors from the MRC Centre and Cardiff UK, concluded that ADHD is a brain development disorder.
ADHD , has been owed to bad parenting or high sugar diet, and this was considered for a very long time, though many factors suggested that it was a genetic disorder, e.g: the percentage of ADHD children of parents with ADHD are more likely to develop this disorder than those with normal parents. In addition, if 1 of a set of identical twins has ADHD, the other twin would have a 75% chance to have it.

Genetic analysis of   DNA from 366 children with  ADHD  and 1,047 normal children was performed.

Researchers found that children with ADHD were more likely to have small DNA segments duplicated or missing than controls.
 This type of genetic variation is found to be more common in brain disorders. So, this new study provides the first direct evidence that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Furthermore, they also found significant overlap between these segments, or copy number variations (CNVs), and those linked to autism and schizophrenia. While  these disorders are currently thought to be entirely separate, there is some overlap between ADHD and autism in terms of symptoms and learning difficulties. This new research suggests there may be a shared biological basis to the 2 conditions.

The most significant overlap was found at a particular region on chromosome 16 which has been previously implicated in schizophrenia and other major psychiatric disorders and spans a number of genes including one known to play a role in the development of the brain.


Now we can say with confidence that ADHD is a genetic disease and that the brains of children with this condition develop differently to those of other children.
Children with ADHD have a significantly higher rate of missing or duplicated DNA segments compared with other children and we have seen a clear genetic link between these segments and other brain disorders, said an author from Cardiff University.


ADHD is not caused by a single genetic change, but is likely caused by a number of genetic changes, including CNVs, interacting with as yet unidentified environmental factors, explained another author from  Cardiff University. Screening children for the CNVs that we have identified will not help diagnose their condition. We already have very rigorous clinical assessments to do just that.

The research team said these findings should help clear up misunderstanding about ADHD, so that affected individuals and their families encounter less stigma. These results also show that ADHD is better considered as a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism rather than as a behavioural problem.


Genetics gives us a window into the biology of the brain. In the future these findings will help expose the biological basis of ADHD which in turn will help develop new and more effective treatments.


Conclusion :

The first gains beyond today's study might be initial insights into the pathogenesis and neurobiology of brain development as influenced by these genetic variants. This knowledge will eventually enter the clinic and might affect the way people think about and treat neurodevelopmental disorders by accounting for the biological consequence of the specific patient's genotype.



Prepared By: Dr. Firas Ali El-Khalaf

اضغط هنا للقراءة باللغة العربية

Prepared by: Dr. Feras Ali Al-Khalaf

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