Inheriting the ADHD Gene


"I don’t have ADHD, but my husband does. If we have a child, what are the chances that he or she will have it?"

Dr. Larry Silver specializes in treating children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

ADDitude Answers

It’s clear that ADHD can be inherited, but we don’t know the frequency with which the gene or genes for the disorder are passed down. So, yes, there’s a chance your child will have ADHD, but I urge you not to let this stop you. If your child does inherit ADHD, you should be able to recognize the symptoms and get help as early as possible, since you’re familiar with the condition.

Posted by Larry Silver, M.D.
Author of The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities

ADDitude Answers

It is very often genetic, but not only genetic—sometimes people have ADHD with no family history of it.

It is very possible for kids in families with ADHD not to get ADHD. A parent with ADHD only makes the chances greater.

Perhaps you will also want to check out this article, Is ADD/ADHD Genetic? Genes as a Cause of ADD/ADHD, which explains ADHD genetic research.

Posted by Penny Williams
ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

A Reader Answers

My husband and I both have ADHD - my daughter doesn’t have it at all, and all three of my sons “grew” out of it - they struggled in grade school for awhile, then they developed strategies to compensate. Everything was ok after that. You still can tell our home is an ADHD home, but as long as it doesn’t impact their work lives and their married lives, it works.

Posted by befree

A Reader Answers

You may try researching the book Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with ADHD from Childhood to Adulthood. It’s a very educational book from authors who are doctors that have treated ADHD and also have it. There is some good information in there about family diagnoses too.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in first grade and as I was researching it one day I found an article on Adult ADHD. It was a life changing day because it was ME!!! I made an appointment with a specialist, had the workup, got the diagnosis too and it changed my life. It wasn’t long after that, I mentioned it to my mother who also ended up with the same diagnosis. It’s only a theory, but my family has a long history of addiction and I wonder if it was a self-medicating thing since people didn’t understand ADHD back then.

I’m a twin and my sister’s son also has ADHD. I’m convinced there is a family connection. It just may be that there isn’t much research on it yet since our parents and grandparents didn’t know about it or get diagnosed with it like we did. Good luck!!

Posted by ellamae1975

A Reader Answers

My father had ADHD, both brothers (one, hyperactive; one a brilliant, disorganized “space cadet”; my identical twin and I both have ADHD; not to mention some grown neices and nephews, some of whom are on medication).

My husband’s father was definitely ADHD; his mother very “spacey”; his brother and one sister have ADHD; several neices and nephews do, though only two (including a grandneice) are on medication.

Supposedly it’s highly heritable. If one parent has it, the kids have a 50-50 chance of being ADHD. If both do, an 80% chance. Yet it’s not a death sentence or anything. The family, the school, and the child need to work together. I have a master’s degree, am a published author, and was successful at my career. The high energy and stamina helps you do a lot more. It’s not all bad.

Posted by Patwriter

A Reader Answers

ADHD tends to run in families and, in most cases, it is thought the genes you inherit from your parents are a significant factor in developing the condition.

Research shows that both parents and siblings of a child with ADHD are four to five times more likely to have ADHD themselves.

However, the way ADHD is inherited is likely to be complex and isn’t thought to be related to a single genetic fault.”

It’s very common to find it running (diagnosed or not) in families. As far as I know, no one in my family has it. There’s a small chance it could be in my husband’s family undiagnosed (his sister refuses to get her son tested even though the teachers are pushing it, and he doesn’t know his birth dad), but he doesn’t have ADHD himself.

I’m not sure it’s always a direct link like that though… My husband has some anxiety and OCD. OCD and anxiety are mental disorders that are different from ADHD, but often co-exist or are similar in some ways in the brain. I’ve heard it described that they “sit at the same table”. If there was a club for mental disorders, they’d be in it together. My son also has Tourette’s. That to me makes me wonder if there isn’t something going on in the brain that is similar enough to make this all very genetic.

Posted by Rai0414

A Reader Answers

They haven’t found an ADHD gene yet, but adults with ADHD are more likely than average people to have children with ADHD.

So, I would say yes, there is a chance, but there is also a chance your child won't.

Posted by SueH

This question was asked on the ADDConnect forums. Read the original discussion here.


Growing Up ADHD
Steven Dickstein, M.D., explores age-appropriate ADHD treatments, as well as how to adapt treatment based on an individual's strengths. Listen now!

Replay This Free Webinar

Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.
Copyright © 1998 - 2016 New Hope Media LLC. All rights reserved. Your use of this site is governed by our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.
New Hope Media, 108 West 39th Street, Suite 805, New York, NY 10018