Australian study on genetics of ADHD

20 April 2009

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have launched a major new study to investigate genetic factors involved in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a complex condition with a neurobiological basis, influenced by multiple genetic and environmental factors; there is strong epidemiological evidence to support significant involvement of genetic factors in susceptibility to ADHD. It is typified by inappropriate hyperactivity, impulsivity and lack of attention in children and adolescents, and is one of the most common psychiatric disorders, affecting between 3-9% of school-aged children and young people (see NHS Choices website)

The new study is intended to elucidate possible links between genetic factors, cognitive difficulties (commonly associated with ADHD) and brain function in children. Lead researcher Mark Bellgrove said: "By documenting cognitive ability in children with ADHD, researchers hope to determine genetic differences between those children with and without cognitive problems" (see press release).

The study is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NMRC) of Australia and will be carried out by researchers at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and the Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane, the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne and Curtin University of Technology in Perth. Researchers hope to recruit more than 600 families for the ADHD study. The ultimate aim would be to improve diagnosis and targeting of treatment for the condition, for which effective drugs are already available.