ADHD is a genetic condition, study says
September 29th, 2010
06:30 PM ET

ADHD is a genetic condition, study says

A new study in the Lancet provides the first direct evidence that genetic abnormalities are responsible for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD.

Although previous research had shown that ADHD can be inherited, no specific genes have been identified before that seem to underlie this condition. But that doesn't mean that someone with these particular genetic markers will have ADHD, experts say.

"This tells us that there is a biological marker that tells us that this person is susceptible to develop this disease," said Dr. Robert Marion, chief of genetics and developmental medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

Researchers led by Dr. Nigel Williams at the Cardiff University School of Medicine in Wales fully analyzed data from 366 children with ADHD and 1,047 who did not have ADHD.

The Lancet study finds that children with ADHD have more large, rare copy-number variants than children without the condition. "Copy-number variants" are pieces of DNA that are either missing or extraneous in the chromosomes. Other studies have suggested that these variants may be associated with schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Specifically, this study suggests a shared biological basis between ADHD and autism because of the shared genetic characteristics found in this study. Researchers also found genetic overlaps with schizophrenia.

""Eventually we’re going to be able to do testing that will identify susceptibility to ADHD or other conditions," Marion said.

But that test won't be available any time soon, especially because there appear to be a large number of variations in DNA that predispose a person to ADHD, Marion said.

The results suggest that ADHD is "not purely a social construct," the study authors wrote. "It’s a real hard and true disorder," Marion added.

On the other hand, this doesn't rule out environmental factors, Marion said. It may be that specific environments determine whether a person with these genetic variations goes on to develop ADHD, autism, schizophrenia, or nothing at all. However, scientists do not yet know precisely what those factors are.

In the future, as more becomes known about the genetics of ADHD, interventions may be tailored toward specific children before they begin to have serious problems in school, Marion said.

The study's "results are exciting, but how these findings will be clinically translated is still speculative," writes J. Peter Burbach, of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, in a Comment in the journal. More research should be done to further examine the associations between these genes and their outcomes.

ADHD has caused a great deal of controversy as parents struggle to appropriately treat their children.

Given that there may be nearly 1 million misdiagnoses of ADHD in the United States, a better grip on the biological basis of it may help mental health professionals distinguish ADHD from other problems.

soundoff (618 Responses)
  1. Bob

    What happens if ADHD is a genetic disorder in 1% of the population, but in order to make a profit Drug Companies need 10% of the population for the Meds to be profitable.. Believe me, somehow Drs will over-prescribe these medications and the rest of these kids get stuck with the side-effects.. it's hard to tell what is right when drug companies do their own studies or support research institutions.. It is like the fox guarding the hen house.. What is the value of Biased research??

    September 29, 2010 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ChipH

      What happens if the drugs being prescribed to ADHD kids FROM BIRTH are causing genetic abnormalities picked up in testing? If Big Pharmaceutical can clone jellyfish into glowing green pigs (yes!), and clone bacteria into your morning corn flakes (yes!), then don't think for a second they did any genetic testing on these POWERFUL psychoactive drugs being used for 30 years now, and yet WE TAXPAYERS, get to not only bail out Big Pharmaceutical, but make them INCREDIBLY RICH on the tax dole!!

      September 29, 2010 at 22:56 | Report abuse |
    • Maggie

      Several years ago, I was teaching special education in a town just outside of a military base. A squadron was relocated to our area and we had a influx of new students. I noticed that all of the incoming special education students had been diagnosed with ADHD as either their primary or secondary disability. During a phone conversation with a teacher from the other school system, it came to light that their district had received a 7 figure grant to help them identify and educate students with ADHD. That grant was funded by a pharmaceutical company. Absolutely deplorable.

      September 30, 2010 at 03:39 | Report abuse |
    • Veggiehead

      Maggie, that is not the only way this diagnosis is used for monetary purposes. I know of parents who have purposely gotten a difficult child diagnosed in order to get money form the state for special care. In my state there is a grant available to parents who have children with a "leaning disability." You can get a shockingly large amount of money that way. I know a parent who had a teenager diagnosed, and used the money to send the kid to a private boarding school in another state. Not a "special education" school, mind you - just a private one with a hight teacher-student ratio and no proximity to the city temptations that were getting the spoiled child into trouble.

      September 30, 2010 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
  2. CG

    Disorder? Perhaps merely another inheriited trait like brown eyes vs. blue eyes. If society were to think blue eyes a disorder, would scientists try to find a cure for that?

    September 29, 2010 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. David

    ADHD is a symptom of our collective psychoses, the symptom being we think it is normal for a child to sit in a desk for long periods of time. A child's "job" is to experience their unrestricted creativity to the fullest.

    September 29, 2010 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Cole

    "This tells us that there is a biological marker that tells us that this person is susceptible to develop this disease," said Dr. Robert Marion, chief of genetics and developmental medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who was not involved in the study. ! ! ! ! ! ? ? ? ? ? Arrrrrggggg !
    ADHD is a condition as respnds well to treatment. It is not a DISEASE ! ! !

    September 29, 2010 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. mother of four

    I was diagnosed in the 70s as being (what they then called) Hyperactive and is now known as ADHD. My mother was concerned about the side effects and took me off the ritalin shortly after putting me on it. I have managed without medication and, over time, learned to compensate for it. Elementary and middle school were awful. I pulled myself together in high school and went on to college. My second born has Asperger's (he's eighteen). My father is bipolar. I have long believed that this could not be a coincidence.

    September 29, 2010 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mrs mom

      I hear you loud and clear. My two sisters are just as ADHD as I am. I chose medication. They chose to create structures and systems to help them navigate daily life. One is a recovering alcoholic who still can't hold a job. The other is antisocial, works from home, and has no three dimensional friends. They think I am weak and copped out. I think I'm very happy to be medicated and living a normal life with a college degree, a satisfying job, longtime friends, and the ability to process clearly. If that's copping out, so be it!

      September 29, 2010 at 23:58 | Report abuse |
  6. Larry Cohen

    Whoever funded the study got the results they wanted. How do I know this? Because people who fund studies DEMAND the results they want. Welcome to Pharmceuticals American style 101! Believe at your own naive risk!

    September 29, 2010 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kamikaze

      So true.

      September 30, 2010 at 00:17 | Report abuse |
    • Cosmo

      Kamikaze- I'm sure you drive around with a beer in your hand (and no seatbelt on) like your parents did too. And I'm sure if you end up with a pregnant 15 year old daughter, you are probably the dad!

      September 30, 2010 at 14:21 | Report abuse |
  7. Adhdmom

    Well..this condition can be quite uncomfortable to the person who has it. They have trouble focusing, and do get "lost". My daughter has it. She wasn't paying attention to what she was doing, and kept injuring herself. She was having trouble "focusing" on reading and wasn't doing so well in that department. Thinking it was related to her vision, we took her to get her eyes checked, and nothing was wrong with her vision. After seeing her interact with other students, we noticed she couldn't keep still. The more kids or clutter around her, the worse her symptoms became. It's almost like she was having some anxiety, which is crazy. After being diagnosed and properly medicated with the smallest dose possible, she has gone from failing to passing. I am a believer.

    September 29, 2010 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Joe

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
    You watch–someday they will find out that it's caused, like many things, by the massively polluted planet that we live on.
    Just wait.

    September 29, 2010 at 22:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ChipH

    A few years ago I was doing research in fisheries restoration because it was a big 'growth' industry for State/Fed funding,
    there were tiers of welfare tax dole public scientists FIVE DEEP around the salmon restoration issue, and being a thorough researcher of their claims that salmon exhibited 'sub-speciation' in every river, even every BRANCH of every river, and each of those 'newly identified sub-species' needed, naturally, more Fed FUNDING and more welfare tax dole fisheries scientists, wasn't it a shock to discover that in the early 1900s all of (Eastern) Washington State's salmon were wiped out by hydraulic miners and irrigation farmers and white salmon poachers, and had to be restored using eggs imported from a single source, I forget where they got them, but the point being that as early as 100 years ago, all wild species of salmon were homogenized after the settlers wiped them out, then homogenized for a second time during the 1970's hatchery boom using one stock of eggs released into many different locations right up until Federal funding for 'Endangered Species' became available, then suddenly all these welfare tax dole scientists developed amnesia, and started 'discovering' new salmon sub-species, whatever that means to ESA funding, it must mean BILLIONS in free money ripped from taxpayers.

    The point is ClimateGate! We can no longer trust public scientists! They are whores to Golum just like our Corporate-State.

    So before you suck on a shotgun that your kid is 'ADHD', remember, there are millions of welfare tax dole doctors, and psychologists, nurse practitioners and special educators, even para-educators, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF THEM looking at IDEA/504 and ObamaRahma $'s, singing 'Chi-Ching' in the shower before they go off to welfare tax dole jobs.

    The real losers are the taxpayers, and the kids who are trapped by this modern label of 'retarded', because that's what it is. Even though their education files are meant to be confidential, employers are trained to spot ADHD academic transcripts, we are creating 'Zero Rejects' wasted generation who will eventually become wards of the State, then UAV pilots for Pentagon.

    The biggest losers will be this generation of school kids held in mixed 'inclusion' general population, studied and response-to-intervention assessed like pigeons before a squab-shooting contest. What was formerly a crime of school-age social neglect in US, is now about to become a very lucrative, very, VERY lucrative privatized One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

    Yet here we are spending $50 BILLION a year for Federal education, and Defense just got a $95 BILLION, +14% RAISE!!
    Just Defense's +14% RAISE ALONE is TWICE what we spend for ALL EDUCATION in the US, and there are 854,000 'intel' spooks according to WikiLeaks, disappearing another $255 BILLION a year, FIVE TIMES what we spend on Education, and we are NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO ASK WHAT FOR, OR DEMAND AN AUDIT!!

    So ADHD away! Go large! The US is $16 TRILLION in deficit debt, and Americans have lost $12 TRILLION in just two years. What's another $5 billion for 'ADHD' students when we're going to hell in a TRILLION DOLLAR DEFENSE BLEED hand basket!

    September 29, 2010 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Zarbon2010

    I bet in the next decade or so this study will be refuted with either a new study that points to something else or another calling bull on this one. It happens in science all the time, but more so in fradulent scientific disciplines, than in the hard sciences that actually use verfied testable results. Though I'm surprised they found that small number of ADHD kids. These people label anything that they feel is to annoying to obnoxious or too out of the standard behavior opinion as ADD or ADHD or Autism. Take your pick they don't care what label they give them and neither do they care what drugs they give your children. Ritalin, an Anphenphetamin, so the child can behave like a zombie. In 30 years I bet people (if they have a conscience) will be kicking themselves that they fell for this crap and that they gave these kids Meth by another name.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kati

    I totally buy into the autism-ADHD link. In fact, I have so many characteristics of BOTH disorders that I've been diagnosed as having both (some docs say ADHD, others say high-functioning autism).

    It's very common for those with autism or Asperger's to be misdiagnosed with ADHD; there are too many similarities.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Ben

    ADHD is a disease that was made up so that pharmaceutical companies could make billions selling drugs that "treat" it. I was tested for it to see what would happen, although I was not concerned I had anything like it. It's a total scam. You come out of the test with either ADD if you do poorly on the tests or ADHD if you do well. It makes no sense. I completed simple puzzles that they presented to me so fast that it was unreasonable for me to not have ADHD. Are you kidding me? The sole fact that I was there to get tested warranted me having the disease autmatically.

    You're an idiot if you think you have ADHD, blaming your inability to pay attention on a disease that they made up not even that long ago. And they give out potentially dangerous drugs to treat it too, to kids as young as 5 even! What is going on with the world. Yeah I got consistently bored in school and wouldn't pay attention but not because I was physically unable to due to some disease, but because it was BORING. No one wants to pay attention. The only thing that separates the people who pay attention from the people who "can't" is not a disease, but how smart you are. Next time you "can't pay attention" to something, stop being a dumba** and try a little harder, even if it's so boring that it hurts your head.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kati

      I'm a very smart person–far from a dumba$$–and have ADHD. I wanted to pay attention–I loved learning–but had a very hard time taking in information from the teacher. Nonetheless, I was a straight A student, valedictorian, went to college on a full-ride scholarship, graduated college with honors, etc.

      There are smart people with ADHD and stupid people with ADHD, just as there are smart people without it and dumb people who aren't ADHD. You can't connect two.

      September 29, 2010 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      youre the epitome of a hard worker. the kind everyone should be. good grades dont make you a smart person, they merely reflect how hard you studied on your own. in college i could care less about my grades, i just learned everything i wanted to and did enough work to pass. i was comfortable with the amount of work i did, even if it meant my grades suffered because of it. thats just who i am. but when my friends and roommates needed help with something school related they came to me for help, not the people with the straight a's because they were all too busy studying for themselves.

      i wasnt trying to connect the two because, as i said, i dont think ADHD even exists. there is merely levels of intelligence and dilligence, thats all.

      September 29, 2010 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
    • Leah (TXanimal)

      Good for you that your brain chemistry is perfect and you developed coping skills to complement that. Everyone's wired differently.

      I have inattentive ADD...and I'm extremely disorganized. I've spent the last 30 years "trying harder". I read books on the subject, I watch TV shows, and I have friends help me...not to mention the fact that my parents and teachers drove themselves crazy trying to get me in line growing up. I literally *don't get* organization the way most normal people do. It causes me so much anxiety I actually break down and cry because I'm so frustrated. You can sit there and judge me as "lazy", but until you've been in my shoes, you can't claim to have any clue what someone who's wired differently from you thinks.

      September 29, 2010 at 23:50 | Report abuse |
    • Mr.Speed

      You sir are a moron.
      For years I have watched my son struggle with his grades. I have watched him attempt to play sports.
      I have watched him do his home work and you know what??? He CAN'T focus. The best thing that we have done for our child is have him tested for ADD. Too bad there isn't a test for stupidity. I'm sure you'd pass that one .

      September 30, 2010 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Ben = full of sh*t.

      September 30, 2010 at 21:58 | Report abuse |
  13. urkiddingme

    kamilaze, what you do with your children is called child abuse.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kamikaze

      It's called parenting but you punish your kids you see fit and we'll see who has a 15 year old pregnant child.

      September 30, 2010 at 07:59 | Report abuse |
    • Cosmo

      Kamikaze- I'll bet you drive around with a beer in your hand (and no seatbelt on) like your parents did too. And I'm sure if you end up with a pregnant 15 year old daughter, you're probably the dad!!

      September 30, 2010 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
  14. ADD

    What are the symptoms of adult ADD?

    September 29, 2010 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Erik

      My Doctor:
      A: There are several different types of attention deficit wiring. The classic ADHD has high energy and impulsiveness. But there is another category known as attention deficit disorder: inattentive type. These people have a more mellow exterior, often describe themselves as being space cadets or dealing with brain fog. They are more likely to hesitate or procrastinate taking action. They have a short attention span for tasks that are not interesting, frequently lose objects like keys, and are often late. Frequently people with this type of ADD are easily bored, and may have numerous projects going that they find very difficult to finish.

      My experience:

      Boredom with all tasks and previously fun activities can be misdiagnosed as depression.

      Personally I have become almost entirely incapacitated by this. It is hard to move my body to perform even the most simple tasks. So boring and spaced out it is physically painful to focus and very hard to move physically. I used to be a cross-country marathon ski-racer, and a 60-80 hour a week worker, so I was not a slacker. Over the last 15 years though I have deteriorated to where I can't even do my laundry(I pay someone to do it) I have forgotten my own name a few times now. I get a serious head pain when I try to focus when I catch myself spacing out. I have to have strings attached to my items or I will lose them. I call myself a space master General. Way beyond a space cadet. In a day I'll forget what I am saying 5 or six times in mid-sentence and never remember what I was saying. When I sign multiple forms, I have to pause for five seconds everytime before I can sign my name and everytime before I can put in the date. Signing and dating 5 forms in a row can cause what seems like a mini stroke giving me a headache that may last for a long time. For days.
      Basically the extreme inability to focus makes work and play activities to boring to do anymore. You may find yourself just staying in bed because its easier.

      September 30, 2010 at 01:05 | Report abuse |
    • Hugh

      ADHD in adults is pretty much the same as in children, although there are often fewer symptoms than they had as children. So ADHD adults may be either primarily hyperactive or primarily inattentive or may be both hyperactive and inattentive. Children will show six or more symptoms listed in the DSM-IV in two or more areas, i.e. school, home, work, social settings, for at least the preceding six months, and will have done so prior to the age of seven.

      It has been suggested that the criteria for diagnosis in adults should be looser because some symptoms seem to fade as the child matures (or the adult learns coping behaviors that mask some of his/her symptoms.) I have read that the DSM-V, which I believe is due out soon, may require only three or four symptoms for adults.

      For a list of symptoms, Google "DSM-IV" and ADHD; the list is too long for this post. Note that one of the requirements for a diagnosis of ADHD is that the individual's symptoms are not better accounted for by another diagnosis.

      Although it isn't listed as a symptom, perhaps because it isn't seen as problematic, people with ADHD have an unusual ability to hyper-focus. It's the ADHD bonus; while it is much harder to get and hold the ADHD person's attention, he/she can work on the thing that does offer sufficient stimulation far, far past the "normal" person's point of boredom or exhaustion. In most, but perhaps not all, instances this will be the opposite of multi-tasking and will utterly eliminate awareness of off-task stimuli he/she usually cannot not be aware of.

      If you suspect that you or a family member might be ADHD, I urge you to see two or more medical professionals about it. If anyone you see either does not believe in medication for ADHD or only uses medication for ADHD, seek another opinion. Things are not as black and white as some posters would have you believe.

      September 30, 2010 at 02:18 | Report abuse |
  15. kayla

    I dont think that this is true bc i have adhd and no one els in my family has it so how could that be and i was on meds for a whlie but as i got older it got better i have almost no sympoms of adhd anymore.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Real Time Mike

    My father was finally diagnosed at age 55. My older brother at age 31. My sister at age 25. I consider myself lucky that I do not have ADHD or even any of the signs of ADHD. My brother, sister, and dad all have benefited from medication. This being said, one must be very careful with this diagnosis. I would recommend, like any other medical condition, to get a second opinion before any course of therapy or medication is pursued.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. hardright

    thank you for stepping into the fray thomas, if that was in fact your intention. it will be a GREAT day when the research is treated in a manner it deserves, nuttiness. i suppose all the 'research' that went into drilling holes in peoples heads to let out the demons was good research too. putting the entired country on anti-psychotic meds in the name of diseases that any REAL researcher will tell you that they have NO IDEA how the brain work and they are just guessing is just plain nuts. people can argue all they want in favor of the position that a chemical imbalance or genetic trait causes depression, adhd, etc...but i firmly believe it's the other way around, acting depressed or hyper or whatever all the time leads to a chemical imbalance and more bad behavior. pull yourselves together, buck up, and start living your life without finding some made-up disorder to limit yourself and your capacity with.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Denise

    My 20 year old son is a member of MENSA. He is also ADD. At two and a half years old he could tell you what was on exhibit at the Smithsonian. At three he once commented on a bottle of multi-vitamins I had purchased and told me that he was happy that I was taking them because they had antioxidants. Needless to say I was shocked to hear a child so young communicate on an adult level. He read fourth grade level at the beginning of his kindergarten year. Read military history books in third grade. And graduated from high school next two last out of 600 students (yes, I did say next to last). The school system accomodates those with average IQs by teaching through repetition. It's frustrating for children who have ADD to have to do this boring repetitive work because they are usually geniuses and already know far more than their teachers. My son did zero homework, zero schoolwork, made A's on his tests, could articulate ideas better than his teachers, aced all his standardized exams, in middle school his reading comprehension was over 800 wpm, ... . I think it's evolution. We need to embrace those who are different and recognize their strengths instead of trying to make them into something they can never be ... an average person with an average mind.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stacy

      I feel for your son. I barely made it through High School and shocked my guidance counselor that I was able to even get into to college, because school was one of the most boring places on the planet, but I was constantly reading and learning new things. I've heard that highly intelligent children are often as left out of the system as those on the other end of the spectrum. Many times they expect the smarter kids to help the slower learners catch up. They need to let kids run with knowledge not hold them back. I am sure your son will go on to do great things in life. He will come into his own and really take off. Good luck to him!

      September 30, 2010 at 00:47 | Report abuse |
  19. Leah (TXanimal)

    Your experience is just that: YOUR experience. There are many different types and degrees of ADD/ADHD, and not all of them can be helped by simply "being there" as a parent. There IS NO cure-all remedy for children or adults who suffer from ADD/ADHD, as it affects different people in different ways. You were lucky that your ADHD was able to be controlled with coping skills and a support system rather than medication. It's not that way for every case.

    My best friend's son is a total basketcase. She and her husband are GREAT parents...the kids are involved in extracurricular activities, they spend lots of time together as a family, they keep to rigid schedules and routines, and they're very involved in the kids' education. They tried private tutors, private schools, extra physical activity, anything they could think of to help. They put off medicating him as long as they could stand it, but the more his grades suffered and the more he was terrorized by other kids in school for his behavior, the more my friend realized it was simply unfair NOT to medicate him.

    I was lucky in that nobody had a clue that girls could get ADD (i'm inattentive ADD), so I was forced to cobble together coping skills that allowed me to graduate college and become an officer in the military. I'm still trying to improve on my organizational skills, but it's very frustrating. I choose not to medicate because I'm a competitive bodybuilder, and the most common side effect of most ADD meds is lack of appetite. So I just find other ways to cope.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Yakjuggler

      So let's see..you have a means to help yourself, but you are a bodybuilder, and don't want to lose your appitite...WHAT??? Umm, set a schedule? Eat anyway? Sigh.

      September 30, 2010 at 09:54 | Report abuse |
  20. Francis

    Do you find boring work boring? Well then you might have ADHD...

    September 29, 2010 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. FromWasilla

    The point of the article is that there is a genetic link to ADD/ADHD. Those 'lazy' parents that you are referring to most likely have ADD/ADHD themselves. I know my father probably has ADD, and from the research that I have done, my father's father as well. (He definitely was bi-polar) How is a person with severe ADD going to teach their kids to be anything different then what the parent is?

    September 29, 2010 at 23:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SayWhat

      Good point. Placing all of the blame on bad parenting without asking why there is bad parenting does not help. And even if you fix the bad parenting (treat the adult ADHD), you still have to treat the child too.

      September 30, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  22. hardright

    this is almost painful to continue reading, i feel for each and every person that has shared their experience...but unfortunately, that's all it is. the common thread here is that, in know this condition is a real condition because research shows it is and then they gave me meds and now i'm ok. well, if that's the case, and i can't sleep on night, take some tylenol PM and sleep like a baby, i must have a disease...no...i just couldn't sleep. keep pouring the meds down and someday they'll realize how insane the generations were from the late 60s until now. hopefully this ends soon with some super smart people discovering that medicating everything is a bad idea.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Steve

    So how did all the kids that became us the adults deal with this epidemic that is ADHD? I mean to look at it half the kids in the US have this problem...maybe its has more to do with hours and hours of TV, Xbox,Cellphones, parents not interacting with their kids, parents contantly giving positive reinforcement when they fail or do wrong etc etc. Amazing that other countries that aren't as wussiefied as the USA doesnt have this "genetic" problem. But yup...keep medicating...because all those meds dont have side effects/create genetic abnormalities right?

    September 29, 2010 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Really?

    There is a problem with relying too much on a genetic diagnosis of ADHD. I understand that it would be helpful to be able to confirm a diagnosis, but could it result in children being given these medications to avoid getting symptoms rather than to treat symptoms they are incapable of controlling by other methods? A parallel was drawn with the gene for BRACA related to breast cancer, but the fact is there are women who tested positive for the gene who remove both their currently healthy breasts to avoid the possible later development of cancer.
    We already have a problem with certain schools aggressively demanding these medications for large amounts children who have undergone no medical testing to rule out any other conditions that could be causing the symptoms. Poorly controlled chronic asthma causes similar symptoms to ADHD, especially if you consider the side effects from the asthma medications. A child possessing this gene could conceivably not have ADHD, but could possibly have inadequately treated asthma which is a fairly common childhood disease. I feel that full physical, emotional, and social setting diagnostics must accompany any diagnosis even if the gene were identified in a symptomatic child.
    Unfortunately, there will be a temptation to leap straight into treatment causing higher false diagnoses unless people can realize this test for the gene cannot take the place of thorough and complete testing. The medications for ADHD can be deadly and should never be taken lightly.

    September 29, 2010 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Chris

    Reading through these comments gives a pretty good idea of why someone like me, an adult diagnosed w/ADD, stays in the closet about it. I do take medication, important but not a cure-all. Those with angry, dismissive, knee-jerk answers seem to reflect a wider discontent with the state of society or medicine. Please understand how hurtful it is, though, to hear such negativity and denial directed toward those who have it. I too, disagree with the description of a "disease"– it's not. It's more akin to being "wired differently" –we're probably talking both electrical and chemical engineering here. In some ways, the individual is disadvantaged just because most people aren't wired that way, so the world isn't organized to that style, or approach, or orientation. It's correct that the diabetes example isn't perfect because it's not as simple as xx cc's of insulin and for that time you're equal with non-diabetics. However, when it's understood that there are differences in brain "wiring," if you will, and brain chemistry, much of this self-righteous posturing should fall away. Let's not be so hard on each other, it's hard enough for everyone out there as it is.

    September 30, 2010 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Karen Black

    Genetic my butt! Simply stated, our dna has been damaged by all the chemicals and pesticides in our environment the last few generations!

    September 30, 2010 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rike Haj

      Karen, why don't you actually do some research on ADHD and the genetic components before you refer to your back side. I have researched it for years and actually obtained a Masters in Science and Mental Health because I learned something about it. Before you try to convince others about the disorder why don't you try to learn something about it? Do you know someone who has it? I do. My daughter has it, as well as my husband. People who lack knowledge or experience about the disorder like to throw their opinions around without real knowledge. There's a lot of misinformation about it because people speak without knowledge.

      September 30, 2010 at 01:10 | Report abuse |
  27. babyfacemagee

    This study is bullsh*t. ADHD is caused by the long term development effect of not having the kind of focused interaction with parents that the child needs. The brain craves stimulation and bonding with the parent and in our moder day, sit the kids in front of the tv all day society...ADHD is just the manifestation of the child's brain developing each and every day over many years while consistently being exposed to the lack of interaction of the parents...and too much exposure to the blinking lights and one sided communication of tv and video games. If you look at the kids that have ADHD they always are the ones with the parents that do not spend one on one, focused, undistracted time with the kids. Take a child whose father spends time with him speaking to him, asking questions, bonding...engaging his brain...and that child does not develop ADHD. I would not be surprised if this...like many studies...is paid for by pharmaceutical money. Their strategy is always to try and classify a disorder as a 'disease' therefore implying it is something that needs a drug to change. It's all part of the business strategy...and it's bullsh*t.

    September 30, 2010 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • theocropolis

      and youve done a study to prove this ? ( that means using more then a few people )

      September 30, 2010 at 00:58 | Report abuse |
    • Rike Haj

      That's an interesting philosophy since the disorder was named in 1900 before televisions were even invented or electricity was used in private homes. Once again, another unfortunate soul who has his own home-grown theory of how a complex disorder is created in the brain. Do you have a theory about cancer too? Does it also involve flashing lights? I would suggest that you do a little real research on ADHD, like reading a medical research article before telling people that a very serious developmental disorder is caused by television. If you did some research you would realize that children who are diagnosed also have a parent who has it and it's very common to see siblings who have it. It is inherited. Educate yourself!

      September 30, 2010 at 01:23 | Report abuse |
    • tekar

      As a mother of a child that has been clinically diagnosed with ADD, I take great offense to some of these comments. My husband and I spend a great deal of bonding time with our children and take school work very seriously. So on the point that it's the parents fault due to lack of quality time spent, you are wong. My son is very bright, but sitting down to do any kind of school work is very frustrating without meds. We would spend over 4 hours on homework each night. Reading over and over the same line....and getting no where. We repeat and repeat but it just doesn't compute. With the help of concerta, he is able to do the work in no time and his attention span in class is much better. So where does that leave us???

      September 30, 2010 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
  28. Mike B

    ADHD does not have to be labelled a disease. It is also a gift. Many artists and business owners have ADHD, as do police and fire workers who thrive on the sudden changes and uncertainties that lay ahead of them in work life. I have it... my son has it... we took drugs for years and eventually came off them. The drugs did help keep us focused and more "normal". They were great. But in the end, we chose to stop taking the drugs and learn to deal with our tendencies... for better or worse. Mostly better.

    September 30, 2010 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. theocropolis

    You can no more discipline add/adhd away from a kid ( or anyone ), then u can discipline a broken arm to be healed, sheesh the stupidity when it comes to brain related problems astounds me.

    September 30, 2010 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Erik

    The symptoms of adult add:

    My Doctor:
    A: There are several different types of attention deficit wiring. The classic ADHD has high energy and impulsiveness. But there is another category known as attention deficit disorder: inattentive type. These people have a more mellow exterior, often describe themselves as being space cadets or dealing with brain fog. They are more likely to hesitate or procrastinate taking action. They have a short attention span for tasks that are not interesting, frequently lose objects like keys, and are often late. Frequently people with this type of ADD are easily bored, and may have numerous projects going that they find very difficult to finish.

    My experience:

    Boredom with all tasks and previously fun activities can be misdiagnosed as depression.

    Personally I have become almost entirely incapacitated by this. It is hard to move my body to perform even the most simple tasks. So boring and spaced out it is physically painful to focus and very hard to move physically. I used to be a cross-country marathon ski-racer, and a 60-80 hour a week worker, so I was not a slacker. Over the last 15 years though I have deteriorated to where I can't even do my laundry(I pay someone to do it) I have forgotten my own name a few times now. I get a serious head pain when I try to focus when I catch myself spacing out. I have to have strings attached to my items or I will lose them. I call myself a space master General. Way beyond a space cadet. In a day I'll forget what I am saying 5 or six times in mid-sentence and never remember what I was saying. When I sign multiple forms, I have to pause for five seconds everytime before I can sign my name and everytime before I can put in the date. Signing and dating 5 forms in a row can cause what seems like a mini stroke giving me a headache that may last for a long time. For days.
    Basically the extreme inability to focus makes work and play activities too boring to do anymore. You may find yourself just staying in bed because its easier.

    September 30, 2010 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Tony F.

    i don't doubt the meds help, but that doesn't change the fact that its wrong to take those meds....

    September 30, 2010 at 01:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Thomas A Martinet

    The City of Hope (Duarte, Ca) was studying this in the 1970's & 80's in their Tourette Syndrome studies. Check their material.

    September 30, 2010 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. W7RKD

    Thanks "FromWasilla" it does explain alot of things why Sarah Palin acts the way she does.

    September 30, 2010 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Patrick

    why isnt the publication linked to in the article? should be standard practice


    September 30, 2010 at 02:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Veggiehead

    "Although previous research had shown that ADHD can be inherited, no specific genes have been identified before that seem to underlie this condition. But that doesn't mean that someone with these particular genetic markers will have ADHD, experts say."

    Uh, CNN? Something is wrong there.....

    September 30, 2010 at 02:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. sockpuppet

    Reading all of these posts from people with ADHD is making me tired. Especially the unmedicated. I would just like to point out that although you all think you have superhuman powers and can take over the world, and it makes you successful so therefore you must be amazing, let me tell you something: YOU ARE NO PIECE OF CAKE TO LIVE WITH. I grew up with a sibling with ADHD, and I now have a child myself with ADHD. It is like living with a tornado that tears up everything and everyone around it. So while you are living high and having fun, the people around you probably want to strangle you. I want to strangle you just reading your exhausting posts.
    Now I will say in all seriousness, that everyone is different, and ADHD is not the same for all people. SO quit telling everyone else how they should or shouldn't treat their child. You have no idea what their kid is like, or what their kid needs.
    And that goes for the people who think it doesn't exist, or that it's a discipline problem.

    September 30, 2010 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mom of three

      I totally agree!

      September 30, 2010 at 05:48 | Report abuse |
    • pbaker

      You are so right it has been very hard on my whife ,and for that i have told her iam very sorry and how much i love her for sticking with me.

      September 30, 2010 at 06:52 | Report abuse |
    • tekar

      Well said. Thank you.

      September 30, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
  37. Mike

    Amanda says the following as if somehow she's immune to the nature of humans since recorded history: "The gears are always turning, the lights in my head are always on, there is no sitting still in silence or in deep thought. I am physically unable to do it." Who was it, exactly, that confirmed to Amanda that the preceeding is simply not the state of human nature, or that she's somehow different than the rest of the world that deals with these nuisances daily? Who was it that promised Amanda that the lights would go off, or the silence would arrive? Why does she feel entitled to the pass?

    September 30, 2010 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Dr RatstaR

    I am 58, self-diagnosed Aspy, (Asperger's Syndrome), and totally agree that ADHD is genetic, and related very strongly to Tourette's, autism, and similar differences. Note the use of the word difference as opposed to disorder.

    I can relate to many of the comments made here about suffering through school by being forced to "dumb down" to other children's levels. I was always acting up in class, despite my father's heavy-handed "discipline". If anything, his abuse served to only heighten my anxieties and social dysfunction.

    I suggest that all people with an interest in this subject read Wired Magazine's article, "The Geek Syndrome".

    My daughter, age 26, is a perfect example of the genetic component of these various differences. Like myself, she has an extremely high I.Q., and is somewhat socially dysfunctional, although bright young eccentric pretty girls have a much better time of succeeding socially than geeky guys with large craniums. (I had a very hard time finding headgear that would fit when I was younger.)

    I also agree with some of the other commenters that the world would be a much duller place without these "differences".

    September 30, 2010 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Cecille

    How soon is ADHD diagnosed?

    My son, 7 y.o. was dismissed TWO days after start of school, the principal called me and said my son have a disability, too clingy and ran around the classroom like he's never been to school, that is why they are dismissing him.

    We came from another country far different from here. We sleep with our child in 1 room, despite having a 2 bedroom house. We are legally allowed entry and stay here because my husband is an expat.

    September 30, 2010 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • STFU

      Please go back where you came from, you are illiterate and your son was dismissed for being weird and smelling like the garbage country you came from. GO U.S.A.!!!!!

      September 30, 2010 at 08:48 | Report abuse |
    • Alexandra

      just ignore him – pathetic!

      September 30, 2010 at 09:37 | Report abuse |
  40. KDB

    I am a 32 year old mother with ADHD and I have a 7 year old son that also has it. First I would like to say that ADHD is both a gift and a curse. As a child I was held back in 1st grade and told that I was stupid by my teachers. I even had a teacher put a refrigerator box around my desk to keep me from talking to other students. I was diagnosed ADHD in 3rd grade, started taking meds and got straight A's. Before meds, I could not focus on just about anything, but I could hyperfocus on some things. I would be reading a book and be completely oblivious to the world around me. That is how ADHD works. Now I have returned to college and I don't know how I would get by with out my meds. Listening to a teacher talk for over 10 min was impossible let alone for an hour and I have interesting teachers. Homework forget it! I have a lot of techniques to help me focus, but mind is always 10 steps ahead. If I could just take a test I could pass and be done, but because we have to be taught the way the system says I will take my meds finish school and then be able to take on the world.

    Now with my son I see how hard he tries. He is so smart, but before meds he couldn't control himself. If he got angry he would hit he couldn't stop himself, it was always reaction not think then act. My son has never been a "lazy" child he would be outside every minute if he could riding his bike, running, playing football and basketball, but even being as active as he is he could not sleep at night because he "could not make his head stop talking". He could not converse very well, because he was always thinking faster than he could get the words out. Now he take a low dose med and sees a therapist by-weekly. We work on thinking before he acts and he can actually sit and read to me now. He has always been a persistent child, but to always be behind because he was so far ahead is not right. For now he will remain on meds and when he is older we will see how it goes. By the way he is in a great charter school that offers a variety of classes, he has music, art, Spanish, science lab, drama and technology. Oh, and he is only in 1st grade.

    September 30, 2010 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Omniscience

    The medicine works... for a while. Then the tolerance increases then then dose increases. Years later you wake up a speed freak who can't fall asleep before three in the morning. Theses ADHA medications should only be used for a short period of time and only in the most extreme cases

    September 30, 2010 at 03:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Christopher

    ADHD is an overdiagnosed 'condition' that is more children acting like normal, easily bored children. I personally was diagnosed with ADHD, and after YEARS of 'therapy' for it, they finally moved me into more challenging classes and... WOW! The ADHD disappeared because I wasn't so freaking bored every day.

    September 30, 2010 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pbaker

      You are right it is and in time they will get better at it but lets not forget what we often accuse christions of not having its called compation.

      September 30, 2010 at 06:48 | Report abuse |
  43. Jannette

    I am an adult with ADD and looking back have been since childhood. I didn't have the physical hyperactivity but mental. It wasn't until age 45 before I was diagnosed. Up until then I just thought I was creative! Unrecognized ADD severly diminishes your potential. I now take Ritalin, on the days I can remember to take it. The difference between them is remarkable. I have been seeing a therapist for over a year and one of the issues I am working on is ADD. My therapist recommended a book by LYNN WEISS,PhD – ATTENTION DEFECIT DISORDER IN ADULTS which also has a companion workbook. This book is very enlightening. I have come to respect the fact that my brain doesn't work like some others do. Schools and testing are designed for linear thinking minds, the type that befuddles an ADDer. However, when given tests designed in a analog manner (all encompassing), "normal" children FAIL and the ADDers excel. The educational system needs to do some serious changing. The statistics on the rate of ADD/ADHD in the prison populations is staggering. I encourage you all to read this book as it is working wonders for me and I feel much, much better about myself. Even my linear thinking husband (opposites attract) who does not pick up on inter-relationalship clues has noticed. If you do read this, be certain to use the 4th edition. Dr. Weiss has been studying ADD for over 20 years and has included the latest of research. Even she has changed her mind on many of her initially held beliefs. It is a great book. Do I think it's genetic? Components of it – YES. With myself, most definately. Do I need meds – The days I take them are so incredibily more productive without stiffiling my creativity. Dr. Weiss recognizes that some people do and other don't. She looks at ADD as a spectrum of symptoms like autisim is. Those with fewer ADD traits can be helped without meds. If you or someone you love, or is and educator, please read this book. It might very well save a life. Good Luck Everyone!

    September 30, 2010 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OMG

      Meth doesn't make you a better person...............Welcome to better living through chemicals..............Who pays the grants to spoon-feed this justification to get high? The drug companies.......Phd's make their money selling books that sell thier viewpoint...........Nothing but educated drug dealers and con artists............I'm around people all the time that fake asthma attacks to get scripts for inhalers which are filled with, you guessed it , speed.........GL with your denial.....

      September 30, 2010 at 06:26 | Report abuse |
  44. Help Here

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a friend of mine with 4 young babies is fighting for his life.......Thanks

    September 30, 2010 at 04:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OMG

      Give it a rest STAN! Your another scam artist.......

      September 30, 2010 at 06:29 | Report abuse |
  45. Mom of three

    Some of these comments are so ignorant! Just because a child has ADHD DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE STUPID OR UNABLE TO PLAY SPORTS! My 8 year old is the top child in his class, he has won 1st place in several art contest, he strives so hard for perfection, oh did I forget to mention he has ADHD? Next time really think before you post hurtful comment. Before you go around taking disses at the parents and children who have ADHD, do some research and educate yourself!

    September 30, 2010 at 05:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Sweetupanddown

    ADHD is real. My son is nine, and I knew when he was 2/3 that is was. We didn't take issue with it until he was seven and failing second grade. He's always had structure, he's always been disciplined, he's always had a consistent routine and been well behaved. However, we finally hit a point where I had to acknowledge it because he could not focus/pay attention and therefore was failing. Not because he was stupid, but because he's ADD. Only parents who's children were not ADHD, have/had misdiagnosed children play they "what a crock" card. Funny they never do that with a stomach virus vs. the flu?

    September 30, 2010 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Surviving with a family full of ADHD

    Unless you have lived with someone with this disorder, you have absolutely no idea what it is all about. Negative comments are hurtful and why would anyone knowingly want to be hurtful to so many people who are struggling with this condition. So for those of you who have had no experience and/or knowledge of ADHD, please keep your comments to yourself.

    September 30, 2010 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. OMG

    So boring , ineffectual teachers are an excuse to drug your kid? Is there a cure for BTS (Boring Teacher Syndrome).....

    September 30, 2010 at 06:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pbaker


      September 30, 2010 at 07:00 | Report abuse |
  49. pbaker

    People still denie its exists maybe cause they got diagnosed wit it incorectly blame sience and some doctors but don't make those who are much much better after medication feel more lousy than they already are. Iam much better on medication ,i tend to drive much better and safer. Don't call me names or put me down where dose that get you or me. Thanks for listening.

    September 30, 2010 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. steve hunter

    Wow John T, take it down a level buddy. That's some serious anger right there. Where was adhd 50 years ago? Undiagnosed.
    I have a stepson that is a poster child for adhd and I guess I was like you before he came into my life. Although perhaps not quite so foamy at the mouth. But, yeah, it's a medical deal alright. I'm a good parent and a teacher so my management of kids behavior is better than most adults and i've got my stepson medicated up to the gills because the hyperness in the morning is a nightmare. Don't be so quick to fall into cliches about bad parenting. Makes you sound like...well...a bad parent.

    September 30, 2010 at 07:03 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Leave a Reply to CrulkAsd


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

September 2010
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.