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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2000 Apr;28(2):149-59.

Etiology of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity in a community sample of twins with learning difficulties.

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  • 1University of Colorado at Boulder, Institute for Behavior Genetics, 80309, USA.


A community sample of 373 8 to 18 year-old twin pairs in which at least one twin in each pair exhibited a history of learning difficulties was utilized to examine the etiology of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity (hyp/imp). Symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were assessed by the DSM-III Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents. Inattention and hyp/imp composite scores were created based on results of a factor analysis. Results indicated that extreme ADHD scores were almost entirely attributable to genetic influences across several increasingly extreme diagnostic cutoff scores. Extreme inattention scores were also highly heritable whether or not the proband exhibited extreme hyp/imp. In contrast, the heritability of extreme hyp/imp increased as a linear function of the number of inattention symptoms exhibited by the proband. This finding suggests that extreme hyp/imp may be attributable to different etiological influences in individuals with and without extreme inattention. If this result can be replicated in other samples, it would provide evidence that the hyp/imp symptoms exhibited by individuals with Combined Type ADHD and Predominantly Hyp/Imp Type ADHD may be attributable to different etiological influences.

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