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A twin study of genetic and environmental contributions to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder over time

Taylor, Mark J., Martin, Joanna ORCID:, Butwicka, Agnieszka, Lichtenstein, Paul, D'Onofrio, Brian, Lundstrom, Sebastien, Larsson, Henrik and Rosenqvist, Mina A. 2023. A twin study of genetic and environmental contributions to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder over time. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 64 (11) 10.1111/jcpp.13854

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Background Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an increasingly commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental condition. One possibility is that this reflects a genuine increase in the prevalence of ADHD due to secular environmental changes, yet this hypothesis remains untested. We therefore investigated whether the genetic and environmental variance underlying ADHD, and traits of ADHD, has changed over time. Methods We identified twins born from 1982 to 2008 from the Swedish Twin Registry (STR). We linked the STR with the Swedish National Patient Register and Prescribed Drug Register to identify diagnoses of ADHD and prescriptions of ADHD medication for these twins. We also utilized data collected from participants in the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS), born from 1992 to 2008. Their parents completed a structured ADHD screening tool, which was used to measure traits of ADHD and assign broad screening diagnoses of ADHD. We used the classical twin design to test whether the degree to which variation in these measures was influenced by genetic and environmental variation changed over time. Results We included 22,678 twin pairs from the STR and 15,036 pairs from CATSS. The heritability of ADHD in the STR ranged from 66% to 86% over time, although these fluctuations were not statistically significant. We observed a modest increase in variance in ADHD traits, from 0.98 to 1.09. This was driven by small increases in the underlying genetic and environmental variance, with heritability estimated as 64%–65%. No statistically significant changes in variance in screening diagnoses were observed. Conclusions The relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to ADHD has remained stable over time, despite its increasing prevalence. Thus, changes in the underlying etiology of ADHD over time are unlikely to explain the increase in ADHD diagnoses.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0021-9630
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 June 2023
Date of Acceptance: 16 May 2023
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 12:04

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