Faculty of Medicine

ADHD is genetic

There is a clear connection between specific genes and ADHD. This is the result of a large international study where UiB-researchers have played an important role, led by Professor Jan Haavik.

BIOLOGICAL BASE: An international study, with participants from UiB, discovered new genes that show that ADHD is a biological disease.

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A new international study shows that If you have specific genetic variations, the probability of having ADHD is very high. 

“This is a break-through for the ADHD-research, and rise the biological base for the condition,” says Professor Jan Haavik at the K.G. Jebsen Centre for Research on Neuropsychiatric Disorders, The Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen (UiB).

The study is published in Nature Genetics.

Comparing genes

Haavik has contributed to the first and biggest genetic study of its kind. The international study compared 20 000 persons with ADHD with 35 000 persons in a control group.

“We hope that the demonstration of the genetic connection may alter the view on ADHD. The condition is not due to bad upbringing, bad environment or bad attitude,” Haavik points out. 

Disproving bad upbringing

Haavik says that ADHD has been regarded differently through the history; from regarded as caused by bad upbringing and self-discipline to brain injury.

“This study is the first study that shows vulnerability-genes for ADHD. This does not mean that environment play no role. The environment influences how we develop and if ADHD-symptoms occurs,” Haavik explains. 

“Persons with ADHD often struggle more that others. When others do not recognize their problems as real, it may make their life even harder. This study, however, shows that ADHD is most real and partly biologically anchored,” says Jan Haavik.