ADHD 'passed on through genes'

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is a genetic condition, research suggested today.

The behaviour of children with the disorder can be explained by differences in the brain rather than parenting skills or diet, according to the study by scientists at Cardiff University.



The team found rare copy number variants - where small segments of DNA are duplicated or missing - were twice as common in children with ADHD than those without the condition.



According to the research, published in the Lancet, there was overlap between the affected parts of the DNA and those associated with autism and schizophrenia.



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



Controversy has surrounded the cause of ADHD because, although children with the disorder are statistically more likely to also have a parent with the condition, there was no direct evidence to show it was genetic.



"We hope that these findings will help overcome the stigma associated with ADHD," said Professor Anita Thapar, from the Department of Psychological Medicine and Neurology.



"Too often, people dismiss ADHD as being down to bad parenting or poor diet. As a clinician, it was clear to me that this was unlikely to be the case.



"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."



ADHD affects around one in 50 children in the UK, making them fidgety, restless, impulsive and easily distracted, often causing them problems at home and school.



There is no cure, although medication and behavioural therapy can help reduce symptoms.



The researchers analysed the genomes of 366 children diagnosed with ADHD against more than 1,000 control samples to search for variations in their genetic make-up.



They found 57 large, rare copy number variants in the ADHD sufferers compared with 78 among the 1,047 controls.



Nigel Williams, also from the Department of Psychological Medicine and Neurology, said: "Children with ADHD have a significantly higher rate of missing or duplicated DNA segments compared to other children and we have seen a clear genetic link between these segments and other brain disorders.



"These findings give us tantalising clues to the changes that can lead to ADHD."



John Williams, head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust, which was one of the funders of the research, said: "These findings are testament to the perseverance of Professor Thapar and colleagues to prove the often unfashionable theory that ADHD is a brain disorder with genetic links.



"Using leading-edge technology, they have begun to shed light on the causes of what is a complex and often distressing disorder for both the children and their families."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Digital & Print Designer

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast-growing company speci...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Analyst

    £17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Riding of Yorkshire

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Administrator - East Ridi...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

    £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuous expansion and growth o...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable