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First direct genetic link to ADHD

March 01, 2016

In an editorial accompanying the paper in the same issue, J. Peter Burbach, of University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, said the findings are exciting, but noted that they had unclear clinical significance. ???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,??? he wrote. ???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,??? Burbach added.

The study faced criticism from clinical child psychologist and broadcaster, Oliver James. He pointed out that there were other studies which looked at the effect of anxiety among pregnant women, and disturbed early relations between mothers and their babies. He said, ???Only 57 out of the 366 children with ADHD had the genetic variant supposed to be a cause of the illness??That would suggest that other factors are the main cause in the vast majority of cases??Genes hardly explain at all why some kids have ADHD and not others.???

Philip Asherson, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London agreed saying, ???Environmental factors such as severe social deprivation at an early age should still be considered a cause of the disorder??The study doesn't tell us a lot about what's going on in the brains of people with ADHD??If we can find out more about these genes and how they affect brain development, that may give us inroads, but it's hard to say when that will be.???

The study was funded by Action Research, Baily Thomas Charitable Trust, the Wellcome Trust, Britain's Medical Research Council and the European Union.