Natalia Lusinski
June 12, 2016 8:58 am
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You may have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, aka ADHD, or know someone with it. After all, 2.5 percent of adults have it, as well as approximately 5 percent of children. Now, a new study by scientists from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London reveals that biological factors may contribute to the development of ADHD.

It suggests that DNA methylation, which controls the expression of genes, is linked to the disorder. Prior research pinpointed genetic and environmental risk factors as playing roles in ADHD development, but without a concrete association between these risk factors.

So, definite findings that biological factors may play a role in someone getting ADHD is a big deal.

For the study, which was published in Molecular Psychiatry, methylation levels were studied across the genome at birth and age seven, as well as ADHD trajectories from age seven to 15 in more than 800 people, King’s College London reported.

Across many genes, DNA methylation at birth was associated “with a high and chronic trajectory of ADHD traits in children.” Many of the  these genes affected brain development processes and metabolism of fatty-acids. The most interesting part? None of them (none!) were still linked via DNA methylation at age seven, the research found, meaning birth may be a key time for these genes in terms of developing ADHD traits down the line.

“Our results suggest that there may be time-specific developmental pathways under which ADHD traits develop,” said Dr. Edward Barker, senior author of the paper from the Department of Psychology at the IoPPN, King’s College London. In addition, “This may help to identify proper timing and targets of intervention including, but not limited to, dietary supplements related to fatty-acid metabolism,” said Esther Walton, lead author of the paper.

Any new research on this subject is a great thing, because it can help improve the treatment plan for both kids and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The discovery of the birth-methylation connection could end up being a major step toward understanding the disorder and getting fast, effective help for those struggling.

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