Tracking down the causes of. Is ADHD Genetic?
Tracking down the causes of ADHD. British researchers have found in a representative study what has long been suspected by various experts: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is genetic - at least in part.
500,000 children in Germany suffer from ADHD Around 500,000 children and adolescents in Germany suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, also known as Zappelphilipp syndrome, and their parents and teachers often suffer at the same time. The number of ADHD diagnoses has increased steadily in recent years and the experts' estimates of the current figures for Germany fluctuate between two and six percent of the children and adolescents who are said to be affected by ADHD. In boys, the mental disorder is about three to four times more common than in girls. ADHD usually occurs in childhood, but can accompany those affected for a lifetime.
Multi-factorial causes of ADHD When looking for the causes of ADHD, a variety of reasons such as parenting errors, neglect and early childhood trauma have already been discussed. Finally, the thesis of multifactorial causation of ADHD, i.e. of the interaction of biological, psychological and social factors, was considered the most realistic scenario. The study results of the scientists from the University of Cardiff in Wales, however, are now again focusing on the genetic occurrence of ADHD.
Genetic link discovered as the cause of ADHD As part of the study, the researchers compared the DNA of 366 children diagnosed with ADHD syndrome with the genetic makeup of 1047 people without disease. More than twice as many as in healthy children showed a clear and rare change in their DNA among ADHD patients (15 percent versus 7 percent). "We have known for a few years that ADHD must be genetically determined because it occurs repeatedly in affected families," explains study director Prof. Anita Thapar, professor of neuropsychiatric genetics at Cardiff University. The scientists now see what they think confirmed and Prof. Thapar added that "it is really exciting that we have found the genetic connection for the first time."
Gene copy number variants (CNV) make the difference The genetic difference between healthy children and ADHD patients is essentially due to deviations in the so-called gene copy number variants or "copy number variants" (CNV), according to the scientists. “Children with ADHD are more likely to have a defective DNA structure. Some parts are duplicate or missing entirely, ”Prof. Thapar explains the results of her study. CNV have long been suspected of having an impact on the predisposition to certain diseases such as schizophrenia or autism.
Study results are beneficial for those affected and their parents The researchers believe that the results are a relief for those affected and their parents, because hyperactive children are still often stigmatized because of their behavior, and parenting is often questioned. "The discovery of this direct genetic connection should clear up this misunderstanding," emphasizes Prof. Thapar, even if the causes of the mental disorder have not yet been finally clarified with the results presented. but only CNVs that work together to promote disease. Prof. Thapar explains that there is still a lot of work to be done before the mental disorder can be fully understood.
CNV can be used to diagnose ADHD However, the study results now presented can be extremely helpful in diagnosing ADHD, since treating physicians can now also search for the CNV mentioned as a risk factor for ADHD. The scientists also hope that the results can be used to derive more effective treatment methods for affected children.
Too many ADHD drugs prescribed So far, the increasing number of ADHD patients has been met far too often with the use of drugs such as Ritalin or Strattera, including the view of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) as the highest decision-making body for the joint self-administration of doctors, Dentists, psychotherapists, hospitals and health insurance companies in Germany. Most doctors are now aware of the problem of using medication, so that the number of prescriptions for such preparations in children aged six to nine years fell by 24 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to the DAK. However, the G-BA was only recently forced to restrict the prescription of ADHD medications such as Ritalin. In the future, an even more comprehensive diagnosis will only have to be made by specialists, and drug therapy must be interrupted regularly to check the effects on the child's condition. Because the corresponding ADHD medications are always suspected of causing side effects such as loss of appetite, growth disorders and cardiovascular complaints, but also additional psychological problems such as nervousness, irritability, inner restlessness, psychotic phases or even paranoid delusions and hallucinations. (fp)
Environmental factors in ADHD hardly examined
Cannabis effective for ADHD?
Image: Rainer Sturm /Pixelio.de