Byline: Madeleine Brindley
RESEARCH by Cardiff University experts will today end the debate about whether ADHD is a real disorder or simply an excuse for bad behaviour.
A team has discovered the first direct genetic link to the condition, which is thought to affect about one in 50 children in the UK. It is hoped the discovery will lead to a better understanding of ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - and pave the way to new treatments.
Professor Anita Thapar, professor of child and adolescent psychology at Cardiff University, who led the study, said: "We hope these findings will help overcome the stigma associated with ADHD. Too often people dismiss ADHD as being down to bad parenting or poor diet. As a clinician, it was clear to me that this was unlikely to be the case. Now we can say with confidence that ADHD is a genetic disease and that the brains of children with this condition develop differently to those of other children."
The research, which involved analysing the genomes of 336 children and is published today in The Lancet, found genetic variations - subtle "chunks" of missing or extra DNA - on the 16th chromosome. These segments are known as copy number variants (CNVs).
Dr Kate Langley, from Cardiff University's school of medicine, said: "ADHD is not caused by a single genetic change, but is likely caused by a number of genetic changes, including CNVs, interacting with a child's environment. …