Is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) something that certain individuals are genetically predisposed toward having? According to a recent study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, the answer might be yes. Their study of over 46,000 women and children found that mothers with ADHD were six times more likely to have ADHD-diagnosed children. Additionally, these same mothers are two-and-a-half times more likely to have a child with autism spectrum disorder.
“This study shows there is a link between mothers with ADHD and children with autism that we didn’t know existed before,” said psychologist Erica Musser, who led the Florida International University study. “…The link may be genetically based or environmentally based, but better understanding that link would require additional research.” Musser adds that the study does not rule out a possible link to fathers with ADHD, as well.
The findings also pair with an earlier study published this past March in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, in which researchers were able to show that prenatal exposure to smoke on the part of both parents is a potential risk factor for ADHD. “Paternal smoking had a negative effect on attentional control in children with ADHD and this effect appeared to be mediated by genetic risk factors,” the paper’s abstract explains.
Autism and ADHD are the two most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders among the pediatric population, yet the underlying causes of both are not very well understood. Better understanding of the underlying causes could help doctors begin treatment earlier, and establish the most effective route for patient care.
“It would be wonderful, as this study suggests, for there to be some concrete evidence indicating some of the actual causes of ADHD,” says Coach Juli at coachjuli.com. “If the causes truly originate from the parents, and there is something that could be done or at least known before having a child, it could aid in reducing the severity of the ADHD symptoms. If there was greater understanding of the root causes, perhaps something could be done earlier on to deal with it versus having to medicate the condition as we now do.”