ADHD, Studies on Genetics and Environmental Effects Needed Now!!

The ADHD community has long been divided over whether environmental factors such as diet, allergies, or environmental toxins affect the symptoms of ADHD. There are individuals who insist that the consumption of artificial sweeteners and colors result in a greater incidence of the symptoms of ADHD. There are many studies that indicate that individuals who consume more Omega-3 fatty acids have a lesser incidence of ADHD and some studies indicate an improvement of symptoms using vitamin supplements such as iron or zinc. There are many other individuals who argue that ADHD is genetic and that no diet or environmental intervention will alter the expression of ADHD symptoms.

Much of the scientific community has recently come to the conclusion that both of these camps are probably wrong. Scientists the world over, in the light of recent genetic discoveries, are agreeing that the question of nature vs. nature is no longer relevant. It is becoming increasingly clear that it is the interplay of genetic factors and environmental factors that results in the expression of many mental health disease

Genetic and environmental (GxE) effects have been shown to in combination play a significant roll in the expression of symptoms in a number of mental health conditions. According to a recent study published in the European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; " G x E effects have been seen across a wide range of mental disorders (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, schizophrenia, substance abuse disorder) implicating a wide range of measured genes and measured environments (e.g., pre-, peri- and postnatal influences of both a physical and a social nature)."

The authors of the European Journal article have recommended that in order to prevent and optimally treat these mental illnesses, the interplay of genetics and environmental factors must be thoroughly studied. The studies done to date have been small, un-replicated and lacking in specificity regarding genetic phenotypes and environmental risks. Let us hope that these recommendations are heeded and that investigations into the genetic and environmental factors which predispose us to the symptoms of ADHD come into a clearer light.

Euro Child Adolescent Psychiatry. 2009 Dec 19.
From nature versus nurture, via nature and nurture, to gene x environment interaction in mental disorders.
Wermter AK, Laucht M, Schimmelmann BG, Banaschweski T, Sonuga-Barke EJ, Rietschel M, Becker K.
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Philipps-University of Marburg, Hans-Sachs-Str. 6, 35039, Marburg, Germany,

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