Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD)

Health Briefs 2005:

December: Duke Researchers Studying Whether ADHD Is Inherited
October: Hunt for AD/HD Genes a Step toward Earlier Detection, Prevention

Genetics and AD/HD

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is a medical condition characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than would normally be seen in a person’s peers. AD/HD typically develops during childhood and can last into adulthood. The prevalence of AD/HD is estimated to be 3-5% of school-age children. When untreated, AD/HD can often cause difficulty in an individual’s home, school, work, or social environments and relationships.

Research into human genetic disorders has made great progress in recent years, mainly because of advancements in biomedical technology. Equipped with greater knowledge, better laboratory techniques, and improved statistical tools, genetic researchers are now in a position to unlock the mysteries of more complex disorders (disorders caused by both genes and environment) such as AD/HD. It has long been observed that AD/HD is more common in some families than in others, but all the genes (made up of DNA) responsible have not yet been identified.

The initial goal of the Duke Molecular Physiology Institute (DMPI), formerly the Duke Center for Human Genetics (CHG) AD/HD study is to find the genetic risk factors related to AD/HD. The long-term goal is to understand how these genetic factors cause or contribute to AD/HD, with the hope this knowledge will lead to improved diagnosis and more effective treatments.

AD/HD Research Review

The exact cause of AD/HD is not clear. However, it is known that chemical balances in the brain affect temperament and behavior. The condition often runs in families, although many adults do not recognize their own AD/HD symptoms until their child is diagnosed with the condition. More research is needed to determine exactly how genetic factors potentially influence the occurrence of AD/HD.

AD/HD Study Participation

Families may be eligible if at least one child has been diagnosed with AD/HD and is currently between the ages of 5 and 12 years old. We collect detailed family, medical and environmental risk factor histories. Participants are also asked to complete a series of psychological and behavioral assessments. Blood samples are collected from the child with AD/HD and both his/her parents, if available. Samples may also be collected from siblings and other relatives when possible, regardless of whether or not they show signs of AD/HD.

Once blood samples are received in the laboratory, DNA (the genetic material) is removed from the white blood cells. These samples will allow us to compare the DNA sequences from those individuals who have AD/HD with those individuals who do not.

All families will receive individual written summaries of testing results at both the Time 1 and the Time 2 phase. We are evaluating changes in behavior over time. All information is kep confidential and is not shared with anyone who is not a member of the Duke/UNCG AD/HD research team

Will my family receive genetic results?
You and your family will not receive any individual reports for family specific genetic results. Each family will receive information on the overall study results and the study’s progress through the mail and/or annual newsletters. Families will be notified if clinical testing becomes available so they can decide, with the help of their physician, whether to pursue clinical testing.

The Collaborative AD/HD Team
To reach our goal of discovering the genetic causes of AD/HD, the AD/HD research team combines expertise in genetics and clinical assessment from both Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro (UNCG). Our team of collaborators includes the following individuals:

Duke Investigators
Allison Ashley-Koch, PhD                   Principal Investigator
Scott Kollins, PhD                               Co-Investigator

University of North Carolina, Greensboro Investigators

Arthur Anastopoulos, PhD                 Clinical Child Psychologist
Erin Morrissey Kane, PhD                 Clinical Child Psychologist

This study is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to Dr. Allison Ashley-Koch (NS049067).

How to Contact the Duke AD/HD Research Team:

Heidi Cope
AD/HD Study Coordinator
Center for Human Genetics
Duke University Medical Center
DUMC 3445
Durham, NC 27710

Phone: (919) 684-0655

Additional AD/HD Information

Duke University AD/HD Program
Duke Child and Family Study Center
718 Rutherford St.
Durham, NC 27710
Phone: (919) 416-2096

ADD Warehouse
300 NW 70th Avenue
Plantation, FL 33317
Phone: (toll free) 1-800-233-9273

American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Blvd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007-1098
Phone: (847) 434-4000
Fax: (847) 434-8000

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
8181 Professional Place, Suite 201
Landover, MD 20785
Phone: (toll free) (800) 233-4050
Phone: (301) 306-7070
Fax: (301) 306-7090

Council for Exceptional Children
11920 Association Drive
Reston, VA 22091
Phone: (703) 620-3660

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
PO Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Phone: (toll free) (800) 352-9424
TTY: (301) 468-5981