Large genetic study finds first genes connected with ADHD

Enlarge (credit: Wyss Institute, Harvard)

If you have ADHD, chances are higher that your siblings do, too. Estimates differ as to how strong the connection is, but the arrows point in the same direction: genetics helps determine someone’s risk for ADHD. Beyond that, we still have myriad questions and not many answers—which genes play a role? And how do those genes affect someone’s ability to focus or sit still?

Some conditions, like sickle-cell anemia, rest entirely on a single small genetic change; but others, like schizophrenia, rest on a dizzying array of genetic differences, all seemingly linked to an infinitesimally tiny increase in risk.

ADHD is much closer to schizophrenia. A paper published in Nature Genetics this week looked at genetic data from more than 50,000 people, finding 12 different regions of DNA that seemed to play a role in increasing ADHD risk.

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