ADHD Symptom Improvement Likely Influenced By Genetics

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Genetics may influence whether symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) improve or worsen as children get older, according to a new study involving twins.

Jean-Baptiste Pingault, PhD, of University College London, United Kingdom and colleagues examined nearly 8,400 pairs of twins. The parents of the children rated their symptoms based on the Conners’ Parent Rating Scales–Revised when they were at an average age of 7.9, 11.3, 14.1 and 16.3 years.

Interestingly, results differed for hyperactivity/impulsivity and for inattention symptoms. While the former symptoms were mostly influenced by additive genetic effects that decreased over time, the latter were influenced by dominant genetic effects and stayed consistent over time, the researchers reported in JAMA Psychiatry.

When the children were 8 years old, they had an average hyperactivity/impulsivity score of 6.0, with 90% of the variance due to additive genetic influences. However, by age 16, the score declined to 2.9 with 81% of the score change accounted for by additive genetic influence.

Meanwhile, inattention scores changed only slightly over time, from 5.8 at age 8 to 4.9 at age 15. And unlike hyperactivity/impulsivity score, 55% of the variance in baseline inattention scores was accounted for due to dominate genetic effects, dropping to 54% over time.

“Developmental models will be crucial in identifying genetic variants and specific environmental influences explaining why some children remit from ADHD, whereas others persist," the researchers concluded.

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ADHD Symptom Improvement Likely Influenced By Genetics

A large twin study shows that genetics have a major influence on whether attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms decrease or persist as children grow older.

Furthermore, these genetic influences are mostly separate from those that determine severity of symptoms at baseline, report Jean-Baptiste Pingault (University College London, UK) and study co-authors.

Findings differed for hyperactivity/impulsivity and for inattention symptoms, with the former being governed mostly by additive genetic effects and decreasing markedly over time, whereas the latter were more influenced by dominant genetic effects and remained fairly stable over time.

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