‘Sex differences in parent–offspring recurrence of attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder’ – Berit Skretting Solberg

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Video abstract from Berit Skretting Solberg of the University of Bergen on the paper in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry – ‘Sex differences in parent–offspring recurrence of attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder’.

Authors: Berit S. Solberg, Tor‐Arne Hegvik, Anne Halmøy, Rolv Skjærven, Anders Engeland, Jan Haavik, Kari Klungsøyr

First published: 20 December 2020

You can watch this video abstract direct from our YouTube channel, or via the embedded video below.


Berit Skretting Solberg
Berit Skretting Solberg

I am a Researcher at the University of Bergen, 50% position March 2020- February 2022, 50% position as a senior consultant at Child and adolescent psychiatry outpatient unit, Hospital Betanien, Bergen, Norway. My main interests are ADHD, autism, psychiatric comorbidities (anxiety, bipolar, major depression, personality disorder, schizophrenia spectrum disorder, and substance use disorder), epidemiology, register studies, nutritional factors, genetics.

Photo credit: Toril Sunde Apelthun/Studvest


Hello my name is Berit Skretting Solberg I’m a child and adolescent psychiatrist and an adult psychiatrist as well i’m working as a researcher at the department of biomedicine at the University of Bergen in Norway.

Today I’m going to talk to you about to study that we recently published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry with the title ‘Sex differences in parent-offspring recurrence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder’.

ADHD is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder sharing genetic risk factors with other common psychiatric disorders. however, no previous study has looked at the recurrence risk patterns of ADHD from parents to sons and daughters, and relatively little is known about associations between other parental psychiatric disorders and offspring ADHD. Therefore our aim was to look more into this

We utilized a linkage of several unique large nationwide population-based registries in Norway, including more than 2.6 million individuals containing information about adults throughout their main reproductive period and their offspring. We had information about ADHD in offspring and for parents, we had information about psychiatric disorders like ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia spectrum disorder, and major depressive disorder.

we found that the prevalence of adhd in offspring of parents with adhd was very high especially in sons and especially when both parents had adhd where 41 percent of sons and 25 percent of daughters had adhd. we also found an overall six to 12-fold increased risk of adhd and offspring and a stronger recurrence risk of ADHD from mothers than from fathers, and in both cases strongest to daughters.

Prevalence rates of ADHD were also higher in offspring of parents with bipolar disorder schizophrenia spectrum disorder or major depressive disorder than in offspring of unaffected parents but far lower than when parents had ADHD. We found similar risk estimates a double risk for ADHD in offspring of parents with other psychiatric disorders

So in line with the known heritability of ADHD, we have shown that parental ADHD has a strong diagnosis-specific association with offspring ADHD. We were surprised by the very high relative risk of ADHD from mothers to offspring, especially to daughters. We suggest some possible explanations including stronger maternal genetic effects a stronger effect of maternal non-transmitted alleles like the mother’s behavior the female protective effect that girls need greater exposure to genetic environmental factors associated with ADHD to be diagnosed, and differences in health-seeking behavior as we know that women seek health service to a larger degree than men.

We were also surprised by the similar risk estimates for ADHD and offspring of parents with other psychotic disorders. We believe that shared common genetic and environmental factors between ADHD and other psychiatric disorders may contribute to this. We suggest that awareness is the keyword for the implication of this work we want clinicians working in child and adolescent, as well as adult psychiatry to be aware of the very high prevalence of ADHD and sons to affected parents and evaluate possible diagnostic bias and under diagnosing of daughters.

Further awareness of possible ADHD in offspring, if parents have other psychiatric disorders is warranted. We believe that early recognition is important to prevent the risk of increased psychiatric complicity associated with ADHD for both males and females. So now if you’re really interested in this research please follow the links in the video or in the video description.

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