To close out ADHD Awareness month I want to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves since being diagnosed. That is the myth that ADHD isn’t real or that bad parenting is the cause.
Autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have a similar burden of rare protein-truncating variants.
https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/news/autism-and-adhd-share-genes-327686#:~:text=%22In%20the%20study%2C%20the%20gene%20that%20is%20most,for%20the%20development%20of%20the%20brain%2C%22%20explains%20B%C3%B8rglumSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/ExcuseMyADHD?fan_landing=true)
Episode 29: Genetics of ADHD
As ADHD Awareness month comes to a close I just want to say that I hope some of the information I have been providing is helpful. Earlier this month we talked about some of the common myths surrounding the stigma of ADHD. This episode I want to focus on a couple that are somewhat interlinked. The first ADHD isn’t a real disorder and the second it’s caused by bad parenting. Both of which are just uninformed responses to something people don’t really understand. Just like most things if it doesn’t affect you so what, right?! I am just as guilty of this as anyone. For a while I even believed what they said that it was caused by food dyes and bad parenting having no idea it was actually something much, much, more than that. In putting out this episode I hope to help give you and or your loved ones little of the information they need to finally understand.
Myth: ADHD isn’t a real disorder. Not only is it real but it is a physiological disorder that is largely genetic and physiological. While sugar and food dyes may exacerbate symptoms, they are not the cause. Bad parenting also not the cause. Sugar consumption, food dye, bad parenting, no discipline, and on and on, all of these are NOT the cause of ADHD no matter how many times someone tells you they are. The science does not back it up. What it does back up however is that there is a significant link to genetics and certain environmental factors such as lead exposure, smoking during pregnancy, premature birth, and certain types of trauma to the frontal lobe. There have been so many things attributed to the cause of ADHD that just aren’t true. Perhaps one of the biggest causes is your parents, not the way they parent but in the genes, they passed down to you. There isn’t just one gene that is involved either for example you may already know of the MTHFR gene, or may not. I recently learned of 2 others but will focus on one in particular the MAP1A gene.
According to new research Autism and ADHD appear to share some of the same mutations of the MAP1A gene. Here is a quote from a Technology Networks article "In the study, the gene that is most frequently affected by mutations in people with ADHD or autism is the so-called MAP1A gene. The gene is involved in the formation of the physical structure of nerve cells – their inner 'skeleton', so to speak – and is important for the development of the brain," explains Anders Børglum The study they are referring to is one in Denmark where they looked at the genes of 8,000 people with ADHD and/or Autism and 5,000 without as the control group. What they found was that there were many more mutations that either severely affect the gene or destroy it. Further they found people for those that carry the mutation they are 15times more likely to have ADHD and/or Autism. If you think oh well 13,000 people isn’t much they also went and used data from more than 45,000 international control subjects without any psychiatric disorders.
Another article from Psychcentral discusses the same study but goes a little farther to note a striking similarity between Autism and ADHD is that in children with Autism and children with ADHD they have the same amount of the gene mutation. This pretty much means it involves the same biological mechanisms. This isn’t the only gene and with the genome having been mapped more thoroughly now then ever before I would say there are going to be many other studies of a similar nature.
The work is published in Nature Neuroscience in a paper entitled, “Autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have a similar burden of rare protein-truncating variants.”
The other more well-known gene is the MTHFR, the initials make me think someone has a sense of humor because everytime I see it I think why yes ADHD is a Mother F****. The mutations on this gene effect the way our body process vitamins like folate (B9) and all of the other B vitamins. These are all vital to brain and nerve function as well as cell metabolism. Since we don’t make folate, we have to ingest it. This is the one vitamin that women especially have shoved down our throats our whole lives because of how important it is to brain development of a fetus. Not only should you take it when you are pregnant but before and after. It’s not just women that need folate though it’s everyone and the good thing is you don’t have to worry about how much you take as much as in other vitamins because your body flushes the excess. Now that doesn’t mean to go downing 50 pills of folate a day it just means that if you are taking a multivitamin that has folate it’s ok to take another with folate to supplement if that is what you and your doctor decide is best. Getting it from food is obviously preferable especially since federal law does not require dietary supplements to be proven safe to the FDA's satisfaction before they are marketed. Likely they aren’t dangerous but there isn’t enough testing always to know how effective they are. Some of the foods that are good sources of folate are mostly the foods that I don’t like to eat. Dark leafy vegetables, although I am not sure what the difference is between a green leafy and dark leafy vegetable unless they mean the darker lettuces for example in a ‘spring mix’?? If anyone knows please tell me. Other sources are citrus that’s I don’t hate that one. I love lemonade, orange juice, etc. but you do need to be mindful when consuming citrus while on medication check to make sure that none of yours have any interactions you should be aware of. Some citrus drug interactions can even change the way your body metabolizes a drug meaning the amount in your system and how quickly it leaves or long it stays. Beans and legumes….uhm yeah no I hate beans. I can do baked beans but that is it. Whole grains, red meats and shellfish are some other good sources for folate and I can get on board with those. The important thing is that we make sure we are getting enough folate to help optimize our brain function. Without folate controlling brain function is it any wonder we have so many issues with concentration, learning, or just about anything else?
If this wasn’t a real disorder or caused by bad parenting things like exercise, balancing nutrition, or medication wouldn’t work as effectively as they do. It’s hard for me to fathom the amount of information I didn’t know before my journey started. When people don’t know try to remember they could be just like I was or maybe you were before you were diagnosed and didn’t get it either. I know it can be really frustrating and deflating when someone doesn’t believe you or think it’s real when you are suffering. We just need to be patient and kind and informative when we can.
My next episode will air November 9th and I have a very special guest that I kind of geeked out about because the first yoga video I ever did was hers. We will discuss Yoga, Mindful Meditation, and sleep. I hope you check it out cause I am really excited.
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