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Development of ADHD symptoms in preschool children: Genetic and environmental contributions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 September 2018

Espen Moen Eilertsen
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Line C. Gjerde
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute of Public Health University of Oslo
Kenneth S. Kendler
Affiliation:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Espen Røysamb
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute of Public Health University of Oslo
Steven H. Aggen
Affiliation:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Kristin Gustavson
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute of Public Health University of Oslo
Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute of Public Health University of Oslo
Eivind Ystrom
Affiliation:
Norwegian Institute of Public Health University of Oslo
Corresponding

Abstract

We examined genetic and environmental contributions to the development of symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in preschool children. ADHD symptoms in siblings at 1.5, 3, and 5 years of age were investigated in a population-based sample from the prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study. The longitudinal contributions of additive genetic, shared, twin-specific, and unique environmental influences were estimated using biometric structural equation models. Heritability of ADHD symptoms ranged from 54% to 70%. There was evidence of partially new genetic influences at successive ages, with genetic correlations ranging from .58 to .89. Contributions from shared environmental factors and twin-specific factors were minor. The importance of unique environmental effects appeared to increase across ages, and was mostly specific to a given age. There was no evidence suggesting that this pattern differs across males and females. Symptoms of ADHD are highly heritability in young children from as early as 1.5 years of age. Longitudinal stability of ADHD symptoms is mainly attributable to genetic influences, but there is also some evidence for age-specific genetic influences. These findings contribute to our understanding of development of ADHD early in life, and can guide future molecular genetics studies.

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Regular Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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