, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 266-276
Date: 23 Feb 2008

High Heritability for a Composite Index of Children’s Activity Level Measures

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Abstract

Despite the high heritability of children’s activity level, which forms part of the core symptom domain of hyperactivity-impulsivity within attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there has only been a limited success with identifying candidate genes involved in its etiology. This may reflect a lack of understanding about the different measures used to define activity level across studies. We aimed to study the genetic and environmental etiology across three measures of activity level: parent and teacher ratings of hyperactivity-impulsivity and actigraph measurements, within a population-based sample of 463 7–9 year old twin pairs. We further examined ways in which the three measures could be combined for future molecular studies. Phenotypic correlations across measures were modest, but a common underlying phenotypic factor was highly heritable (92%); as was a simple aggregation of all three measurements (77%). This suggests that distilling what is common to all three measures may be a good method for generating a quantitative trait suitable for molecular studies of activity level in children. The high heritabilities found are encouraging in this respect.