To mark ADHD Awareness Month in October 2019, we are examining the evidence for a hereditary component to ADHD and asking how genetic testing can help parents to get the right treatment for a child who is suspected, or diagnosed, with having the condition.
Is ADHD hereditary?
There are many question marks over the exact causes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Scientists have explored whether nutrition plays a part, or environment, as well as whether there are cultural or societal factors. But the overwhelming weight of evidence points to genetic and neurological causes, with the possibility that certain external factors may exacerbate the problem.
Research shows that ADHD runs in families, in some instances. Most identical twins share ADHD tendencies and a third of fathers who had ADHD when they were young go on to have children with the condition.
Scientists believe that at least two genes are likely to play a role in the development of ADHD, specifically those linked to the neurotransmitter, dopamine. The condition is complex and research is continuing to isolate the genes responsible.
How common is ADHD?
ADHD is believed to affect 5% of children in the UK and 3% of adults. It is this country’s most common behavioural disorder. Around 75,000 children received a prescription for ADHD drugs in 2017/18.
How do you treat ADHD?
Treating ADHD successfully can present doctors with a challenge. This is because not everyone responds to drugs in the same way, so what can be effective for one person may work less well for another.
In addition, people metabolise drugs differently, so a person with a slower metabolism might need a lower dosage of the drug to achieve the same effect as someone with a higher metabolism. Side-effects can also vary from person to person depending on their genetic make-up so it can be hard for doctors to predict which drugs will work well and which might cause an adverse reaction.
Genetic testing can help to alleviate some of these uncertainties and ensure that patients receive the right drugs for them in the optimum dosage.
Genetic testing is also increasingly being used to support doctors in prescribing drugs for psychiatric conditions like ADHD.
Genetic testing UK
Helping children with ADHD to receive more suitable drugs at the right dose for their DNA
Myogenes is at the forefront of personalised health and genetic testing in the UK.
The genetic tests we use have been designed to help doctors to optimise treatment decisions for people with mental health conditions, including ADHD.
Instead of doctors diagnosing a drug used to treat a particular condition and then waiting to see if the patient responds favourably, this test enables the doctor to see which drugs are a good match and also very importantly, what the right dose is for the patient’s DNA. This information combined helps outline a prescription that is most likely to produce the effective results.
Using a cheek swab, the test analyses key genes that have been identified as having variations that can assist in determining treatment decisions. Clinical evidence shows that our test results in better responses to treatment, helping patients to feel better faster.
This also saves money as it targets drugs precisely and avoids prescribing drugs that won’t produce deliver such positive results.
The test that Myogenes uses can only be ordered by GPs, psychiatrists or registered clinicians, who receive a detailed patient report and consultation with a Psycho-Pharmacogenetic specialist.
It could help to target treatment with greater accuracy than ever before, enabling children to get faster relief from their symptoms with fewer side-effects.
For more information about our genetic tests for conditions like ADHD, contact the team who are happy to answer your questions.