Reading and Writing

, Volume 20, Issue 1–2, pp 103–125 | Cite as

Preschool twin study of the relation between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and prereading skills

  • Erik G. Willcutt
  • Rebecca S. Betjemann
  • Sally J. Wadsworth
  • Stefan Samuelsson
  • Robin Corley
  • John C. DeFries
  • Brian Byrne
  • Bruce F. Pennington
  • Richard K. Olson
Article

Abstract

Numerous studies have examined the etiology of the association between reading difficulties and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in school-age children, but little is known about the relation between prereading skills and ADHD behaviors prior to the beginning of formal reading instruction. A population-based sample of 809 pairs of preschool twins completed an extensive battery of prereading measures, and the parent of each twin completed an ADHD rating scale. Phenotypic analyses revealed small but significant correlations between DSM-IV inattention ratings and six prereading composite measures, whereas hyperactivity–impulsivity symptoms were not independently associated with any of the prereading scores. Multivariate twin analyses indicated that virtually all of the phenotypic correlation between inattention and prereading performance is attributable to common genetic influences, consistent with results obtained in studies of older twins. Although additional research is needed to test alternative causal models in children younger than five years old, these results are most consistent with the hypothesis that reading difficulties and inattention symptoms are attributable to common genetic influences.

Keywords

ADHD DSM-IV Dyslexia Genes Preschool Reading 

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Notes

Acknowledgements

This research is being conducted with the support of The Research Council of Norway (154715/330), The Swedish Research Council (345-2002-3701), Stavanger University College, Australian Research Council (A79906201), and National Institutes of Health (P50 HD27802 and R01 HD38526). Rebecca S. Betjemann was supported by a training grant from the National Institute of Child health and Human Development (T32 DA 17637) during the preparation of this report. We are grateful to the twins and their families for their participation and to the Australian Twin Registry for its assistance. We are also grateful for the expert assistance of our project coordinators and testers in Sweden (Inger Fridolfsson), Norway (Bjarte Furnes), the U.S. (Kim Corley, Rachael Cole, Pat Davis, Barb Elliot, Kari Gilmore, Amy Rudolph, Ingrid Simecek, and Angela Villella), and Australia (Frances Attard, Fiona Black, Rosemary Brown, Marnie Church, Nicole Church, Maretta Coleman, Cara Newman and Annette Stevenson).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik G. Willcutt
    • 1
  • Rebecca S. Betjemann
    • 1
  • Sally J. Wadsworth
    • 1
  • Stefan Samuelsson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Robin Corley
    • 1
  • John C. DeFries
    • 1
  • Brian Byrne
    • 4
  • Bruce F. Pennington
    • 5
  • Richard K. Olson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.University of StavangerStavangerNorway
  3. 3.Linköping UniversityLinkopingSweden
  4. 4.University of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  5. 5.University of DenverDenverUSA

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