Finding the causes of ADHD
A significant ADHD study was launched in January 2008 with an aim of finding the causes and early warning signs of ADHD among pre-school age children.
- The study is unique because we have access to biological material and information about foetal conditions and early infancy via the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), says project leader Heidi Aase at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) at the launch. The study is a collaboration project with Ullevaal University Hospital.
ADHD is frequently diagnosed but little is known about the causes, despite all the published research. The ADHD study intends to address many unanswered questions around the causes of this condition. The study will also contribute to identifying early signs of ADHD, allowing for earlier identification and possible prevention, plus better support for this group. Today there are no developed criteria making it possible to diagnose ADHD in children under 6 years of age.
- I truly believe that we will find out more about which risk factors contribute to some children developing ADHD. Many studies suggest that ADHD is hereditary, but we know little about what is inherited. Maybe a child inherits vulnerability to developing ADHD but other conditions, such as speech difficulties, must also be present for the condition to develop. Nothing is known about this today, says Heidi Aase.
Spotting early signs of ADHD
Many children are active with a short attention span by the age of 3 years, but not all will develop ADHD. There is a great need to find out how we can differentiate between naturally active children and children with chronic difficulties.
Most ADHD research is performed on children in school age and we know little about any specific signs of ADHD in pre-school age children.
The ADHD-study will map out what signs are present in pre-school children with ADHD to spot those with this condition as early as possible.
The main purpose of the study is to give knowledge that is necessary to develop early preventative and illness-limiting help for children with ADHD.
Part of MoBa study
Children taking part in the ADHD study are recruited through the MoBa study run by the NIPH. Information provided by participants in MoBa gives a unique possibility to find causes of illnesses. Researchers have pre-birth information about children, plus blood samples from both parents and from the child’s umbilical cord.
The ADHD study is also unique because it includes clinical and neuropsychological examinations of many children (approximately 1500) at an early age (from 3 – 3.5 years). A picture can be built of which difficulties they have and how they develop.
Through the MoBa study researchers can also consider genetic factors and development factors from birth and onwards, plus the effect of the mother’s lifestyle during pregnancy, her diet, medicine use and exposure to environmental toxins. Researchers can therefore investigate the link between genetic disposition and how the child is raised.