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Sex differences in anxiety and depression in children with ADHD investigating genetic liability and comorbidity

Martin, Joanna ORCID:, Agha, Sharifah Shameem ORCID:, Eyre, Olga, Riglin, Lucy, Langley, Kate ORCID:, Hubbard, Leon, Stergiakouli, Evie, Psychiatric Genomics Consortium ADHD Working group, O'Donovan, Michael ORCID: and Thapar, Anita ORCID: 2021. Sex differences in anxiety and depression in children with ADHD investigating genetic liability and comorbidity. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics 186 (7) , pp. 412-422. 10.1002/ajmg.b.32842

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It is unknown why attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is more common in males, whereas anxiety and depression show a female population excess. We tested the hypothesis that anxiety and depression risk alleles manifest as ADHD in males. We also tested whether anxiety and depression in children with ADHD show a different etiology to typical anxiety and depression and whether this differs by sex. The primary clinical ADHD sample consisted of 885 (14% female) children. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed using standardized interviews. Polygenic risk scores (PRS) were derived using large genetic studies. Replication samples included independent clinical ADHD samples (N = 3,794; 25.7% female) and broadly defined population ADHD samples (N = 995; 33.4% female). We did not identify sex differences in anxiety or depression PRS in children with ADHD. In the primary sample, anxiety PRS were associated with social and generalized anxiety in males, with evidence of a sex‐by‐PRS interaction for social anxiety. These results did not replicate in the broadly defined ADHD sample. Depression PRS were not associated with comorbid depression symptoms. The results suggest that anxiety and depression genetic risks are not more likely to lead to ADHD in males. Also, the evidence for shared etiology between anxiety symptoms in those with ADHD and typical anxiety was weak and needs replication.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 1552-4841
Funders: Wellcome Trust, MRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 13 March 2021
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 23:31

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