Does ADHD Differ Based on Ancestry?

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A few weeks ago, a friend handed me an article about a study on ADHD that was published in a scientific journal. It found that children with African ancestry have genetic differences for the cause of ADHD that that of children with ADHD from European ancestry. 875 children took part in the study (where they were looking at the differences between ADHD genes and non-ADHD genes) but only 205 of them had diagnosed ADHD. This was further broken down by the fact that 116 of these were African American and 89 children had European ancestry.

They state that African genomes are much more complex due to them having more variants than European genes caused by certain types of diseases being linked to specific genomes which includes some genetic mutations that can lead to ADHD. In a nutshell, the variations in African ancestry genes means that their ADHD genetics looks very different those with European ancestry genes.

The main part of the study is that this may affect how ADHD is treated because it could be determined by ancestry. Though of course if this is the case then I can’t help but wonder whether the way in which ADHD presents in children with African ancestry is different to children with European ancestry too? Which warrants the question, if there is no difference in behaviour should it still be treated differently?

Of course, I’m not scientists and I’m not a doctor either. Yet, it would seem to be me that this study is too small scale for them to a draw any real serious conclusions where variables such as gender, cultural input and behaviour has not been considered. There have been further research studies on this, but all the ones I found were in the USA.

Now I’m not saying they don’t do good research in the USA, but I do think the fact that they have to pay for their own health care can influence the cultural and political climate in terms of gaining an ADHD diagnosis. It’s definitely a swings and roundabouts situation though, because in some areas of the UK an ADHD diagnosis can take up to 4/5 years.

On a more positive note, it’s nice to see an ADHD study purely from a scientific perspective so there is not as much subjectivity when it comes to accessing the raw data. One thing’s for sure, that this research along with the variants and contributing factors that influence it goes a long way to explaining why ADHD is such a complex condition to diagnose and treat, no two people with ADHD are the same.

If you want to read the research article in question in full (Spoiler alert: It’s very long and complex if you’re not a scientist!!) you can find it here: –

I’ll be taking a break for the new two weeks ADHDers and allies, while my kids are off school and we’re off on holiday (Can’t wait- I need sunshine!). I’ll still be doing some behind the scenes stuff but the ADHD and Me Blog will be back on 13th June. See you soon!!


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