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Cases of ADHD are on the rise in the United States, as are the number of prescriptions for stimulants doled out to young people (Daisy Daisy/Shutterstock.com)

LONDON, Ont. - ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a medical condition that affects a large number of children.

“Some studies say around five per cent of children at some point show signs of ADHD,” says Lawson Health Research Institute Scientist Dr. Lena Palaniyappan.

However, due to the fact there is no objective testing for this condition it can be hard to properly diagnose.

“So on one hand you have a misdiagnoses and missing it, and on the other hand you have people who may not have ADHD but still being diagnosed with it.”

With that in mind Palaniyappan, in collaboration with researchers at Western University and The University of Nottingham, has been studying genetics and the structure of the brain to get a better understanding of ADHD.

“One of the things we were interested in was to understand why some children respond to treatment and why others don’t. So we were looking at genetic aspects of the disease and wanted to see how the brain gets affected when some genes are different in these children.”

The study included 49 children, 25 of whom had been diagnosed with ADHD and the other 24 were part of a control group.

The participants were between the ages of 9-15 and all were from the United Kingdom.

Along with trying to discover a common gene in children with ADHD researchers also used MRI scans to examine brain structure.

“If you have ADHD, if you have a child with ADHD and you also have this risk gene then your brain doesn’t get folded very well, the folding pattern of your brain is less complex and not fully developed,” says Palaniyappan.

The research team is using this new-found information to look at what treatments and what duration of treatments would be best fit for children with ADHD, as well as a better method of diagnoses.