Genetic Factors

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Studies have shown that there is likely a genetic component of ADHD, as people who have close relatives with ADHD are more likely to develop it themselves. However, this does not mean that all adults with ADHD will have children who also have the disorder.1

The genetic architecture of ADHD appears to be complex. That is, the presence of ADHD in families cannot be traced back through family lines as can eye color or male-pattern baldness. Rather, there are likely multiple candidate genes that may interact with each other and with environmental factors to affect the expression of ADHD.2

  • Some of the candidate genes identified in familial ADHD studies include genes important in neurotransmission.2
  • Genetic studies are consistent with the idea that the genetic vulnerability to ADHD may be mediated by many genes of small effect.3

Note: There is no genetic test for ADHD.4


  1. Biederman J, Faraone SV. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Lancet. 2005;366(9481):237-248.
  2. Faraone SV, Perlis RH, Doyle AE, et al. Molecular genetics of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Biol Psychiatry. 2005;57(11):1313-1323.
  3. Neuman RJ, Lobos E, Reich W, Henderson CA, Sun LW, Todd RD. Prenatal smoking exposure and dopaminergic genotypes interact to cause a severe ADHD subtype. Biol Psychiatry. 2007;61(12):1320-1328.
  4. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. (DSM-5®). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.