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The ADHD Gene


ADHD research has in the last decade studied the genetic links to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD is often reported in the mainstream news media, in connection with these studies, as a genetic disorder. While ADHD is largely an inherited condition, there are many factors in this genetic complex we seldom hear about. This has led to confusion among the general public as to what ADHD actually is.


We read statements by researchers trying to find the ADHD gene to develop a gene therapy for curing Attention Deficit Disorder. This sounds like a wonderful solution at first sight, but a closer look reveals vague promises without any backup.


That ADHD is partly genetic is not a question. 76% of people diagnosed with ADHD have certain genes. However,there appears to be a trend in genetics, for researchers to state something in the general media, which is such an absurd simplification that it isreally blurring the truth, but helps raise funds for their research.


The confusion is increased by the news media not publishing information on the fact that half of these studies, which have tried to test this hypothesis, do not confirm the desired gene-ADHD link. Either giving contradictory results, or have found no connection between the dopamine receptors and ADHD.


Genetics is complex. Having a gene predisposes the person to developing certain traits, but does not guarantee it. In the mid 90s scientists discovered a gene called the D4 dopamine receptor. This gene has the code for a specific dopamine receptor. This was quicklyseen as the key to unlocking the cure for Attention Deficit HyperactivityDisorder. People who have this receptor are thought to need extra stimulation or they will feel bored. Another way of putting it is that they have a low tolerance for boredom.


This hypothesis does not explain why there are children with this ADHD gene, who do not have ADHD. They can tolerate boredom and do not need extra stimulation. Looking at the results of behavioral genetic and molecular genetic studies shows that genetic and environmental factors as well as experience are involved in a person developing ADHD.


Family, twin, and adoption studies show that the genetic influence is a major factor, but not the only one. Even in identical twins, with the same genes, there is no 100% fit. With more susceptibility gene studies being done, the complexity of ADHD genetics is becoming apparent. As these studies produce contradictory results, so the number of candidate genes now being targeted grows.


First there was the DRD4 gene (the D4 dopamine receptor gene), then came the DRD5 gene. Five other genes have been shown to influence ADHD, these are called 5-HTT, DAT1, DBH, HTR1B and SNAP-25. There are now another 50 or so genes and gene variations, which might also play a role.


Often results are reported as leading to a greater understanding of ADHD genetics, but without mentioning the statistics. Taking one such study as an example, here are the statistics on the different gene variations which were not mentioned in a media report, thereby giving the impression that the study has enlightened us in ADHD genetics:


208 participants took part in this study, roughly divided 50/50 ADHD children and non-ADHD children.


Overall 45% of ADHD children and 34% of non-ADHD children were considered “at risk” based on the DRD4 gene with the 7 repeat allele variation.


Proportion of children with dopamine receptor genes:

  • DRD1-C: 43% of ADHD children and 32% non-ADHD children.
  • DRD4-2: 10% of ADHD children and 4% non-ADHD children.
  • DRD4-4: 64% of ADHD children and 72% non-ADHD children.
  • DRD4-7: 23% of ADHD children and 17% non-ADHD children.

Proportion of children with dopamine transporter genes:

  • DAT1-10: Both groups had 71% occurrence.
  • DAT1-9: 27% of ADHD children and 28% non-ADHD children.

Looking at the proportions of how many children had which gene variation, it is clear that tampering with genes to cure ADHD is not a good idea.


The use for genetics in ADHD therapy.


The response a person has to a given medicine, is due to the individual’s genetic profile. Today ADHD medication is still initially prescribed on a trial-and-error guestimate basis. If the ADHD genetic research was more tuned to correlating the different ADHD drugs to genetic combinations then it would help doctors choose ADHD medication with the least side effects for the patient in the first try.


Until then there are natural and practical alternatives to your ADHD, among them are natural ADHD cures and diet.





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