There are 12 genetic risk factors for ADHD, a new study has found.
For the first time, researchers at the University of Cardiff have discovered there are common genetic tendencies linked to the disorder found in around one in 20 children.
The genetic information of around 55,000 people was analysed to identify differences between people with and without the condition. The team also found these same genetic factors are shared with other psychiatric and physical disorders, including depression, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Dr Joanna Martin, a research associate based at Cardiff University, said: “We identified 12 genomic regions at which people with ADHD differed compared to unaffected individuals, and several of these regions are in or near genes with a known relationship to biological processes involved in healthy brain development.”
Surveying more than 20,000 people with ADHD, and 35,000 without, this study was the largest on the condition to date, and researchers believe it could help lead to better treatments in the future.
Professor Anita Thapar said: “This study marks a very important step in beginning to understand the genetic and biological underpinnings of ADHD. The genetic risk variants related to this condition play a significant role in brain-related and other core biological processes. The next step is to determine the exact role of these genes in ADHD to help us inform better treatments to support those affected by the condition.”
She added: “This is a landmark study because it involved patients from all over the world. This large number of patient samples has been lacking for ADHD, meaning our understanding of ADHD genetics has lagged behind physical disorders and other psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and depression.
Every person with ADHD who has participated in research is making a real difference to advancing our understanding of the condition, and we hope this study leads to higher levels of participation and a greater interest in supporting ADHD research.”