A major European research project on ADHD will soon be starting with the aim of investigating the causes and consequences of ADHD, and so contributing to prevention and better treatment of the disorder. The UMCG is coordinating an important part of the study. The EU recently awarded the grant that has allowed this research, involving 17 research institutes in 8 European countries, to go ahead. The data for the research conducted in Groningen will be provided by LifeLines.
More than 21 million people in Europe have ADHD. UMCG researcher Catharina Hartman is the project leader of the epidemiological part of the European study on ADHD. ‘The goal of our share in this large-scale European research project is to get a systematic picture of ADHD, from childhood to old age. We’re going to be looking at patterns of problems within families and the genetic background, across various countries.’ Hartman will do this using LifeLines, which will play an important role in the study – a special questionnaire will be filled in by children, adults and older adults participating in LifeLines. The LifeLines data will be compared and combined with data from other countries.
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) starts in childhood and often persists into adulthood, but little is known about it. It is not a stand-alone disorder, but often appears alongside other psychiatric problems. Over the course of a lifetime, individuals with ADHD may develop anxiety, depression, substance abuse and overweight. However, this is far from always being the case, making it very important to investigate why these other problems do or do not develop. Catharina Hartman: ‘Research on ADHD focuses almost exclusively on children up to 12 years old, as if the problems suddenly disappear after that age. This project is unique in that it will allow us to look at how ADHD develops over a whole lifetime. Hopefully, this will allow us to discover more about how additional problems developing alongside ADHD can be avoided and treated.’