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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2009 Jan;18(1):26-32. doi: 10.1007/s00787-008-0698-4. Epub 2008 Jun 18.

Molecular genetic contribution to the developmental course of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN, UK.



The developmental trajectory of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is variable. Utilizing a longitudinally assessed sample, we investigated the contribution of susceptibility gene variants, previously implicated through pooled or meta-analyses, to the developmental course of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder over time.


151 children (aged 6-12) who met diagnostic criteria for ADHD were assessed using research diagnostic interviews during childhood and 5 years later in adolescence. Severity was defined as total number of ADHD symptoms at baseline and reassessment. Association with variants at DRD4, DRD5, and the dopamine transporter gene, DAT was analyzed using linear regression.


As expected, affected individuals showed a decline in ADHD severity over time. The DRD4 48 bp VNTR 7-repeat and DRD5 CA(n) microsatellite marker 148 bp risk alleles were associated with persistent ADHD. Those possessing the DRD4 7 repeat risk allele showed less of a decline in severity at reassessment than those without the risk allele.


Those carrying the DRD4 7 risk allele showed greater symptom severity at follow-up and less ADHD reduction over time. These findings support the hypothesis that some susceptibility genes for ADHD also influence its developmental course.

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