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Hyperactivity disorder "genetic"

Thursday September 30th, 2010

Children with a hyperactivity disorder may be suffering from genetic defects affecting their brains, British researchers revealed today.

Scientists say the defects are linked to autism and schizophrenia.

According to researcher Professor Anita Thapar, the findings give the lie to claims that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is simply down to "bad parenting or a poor diet".

The findings, published in The Lancet, come from a study of 366 children diagnosed with ADHD conducted over ten years.

Scientists at Cardiff University, Wales, compared these with another 1,000 children and concluded the ADHD children tend to have small segments of DNA duplicated or missing - known as CNVs or copy number variants.

Professor Thapar said: "We hope that these findings will help overcome the stigma associated with ADHD.

"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."

Researcher Dr Kate Langley said: "ADHD is not caused by a single genetic change, but is likely caused by a number of genetic changes, including CNVs, interacting with a child's environment.

"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."

Williams, NM et al. Rare chromosomal deletions and duplications in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a genome-wide analysis. Lancet; 30 Sept 2010.

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Child Health | Genetics | Mental Health | UK News

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