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Is ADHD Genetic?

ADHD Memes

So, a few folks have asked me about the 20 genes that have been identified as candidates for ADHD.

To start with, I got the number 20 from an ADHD specialist who said that there are at least 20 and hundreds more being studied.  

One study alone, by Stephen Fararone, who is the most published author of scientific studies for 4 years in a row, found 12 and as Faraone says in this article, “the team “found 12 of the very many—we don’t know how many—probably thousands of genes related to ADHD.” 

The first candidate gene, identified about 20 years ago, was DRD4.7.  Since then numerous other suspects have shown up with names like SHANK4 and SHANK5. 

A quick google search will lead you to hundreds of scientific studies of genes and ADHD.  Here’s one I find very interesting First Direct Evidence that ADHD is a Genetic Disorder Found . There’s a lot of research going on and as most of the research I’ve read suggests, these genes overlap with other disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorder.

You can read about one study here and download the list of genes in the supplementary material.  Their spread sheet lists 105 genes candidates.  Though I have to say, the ADHD specialist who referred me to this admitted that most scientific studies are tough for the layperson to understand.   

Here’s the list of 105 genes. I have no idea what these little devils do, other than to remind me that this isn’t a choice.

And it’s worth reminding yourself that genes are not destiny.
Genes can be turned on and off.

The interplay between genes are environment, called Epigenetics is still not well understood. So as more than one specialist has told me, “It’s not a question of Nature v.s. Nurture, but Nature (genes) interacting with Nurture (Your environment.)


For more information on Genetics and ADHD see:

Transcriptome-wide association study of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder identifies associated genes and phenotypes

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