Black People: Don’t Buy the ADHD Hype; Grades and Academic Performance Possibly Linked to Genetics

Given the problems that have been negatively impacting the U.S. education sector and disproportionately black children, any information that may be used to assist and improve academic performance is good news. Scientist have  just discovered that variations in the dopamine gene may play a role in the poor academic performance of adolescents.

Researchers at the Florida State University conducted their groundbreaking analysis using DNA and lifestyle data from a representative group of 2,500 U.S. middle- and high-school students who were tracked from 1994 to 2008 in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in an effort to determine the impact of genetics on academic achievement.

Results of the study indicated that academic performance is reduced in  English, math, science, and history if their DNA contains one or more of three specific dopamine gene variations. According to Kevin M. Beaver, lead researcher of the study and a biosocial criminologist “We found that as the number of certain dopaminergic gene variants increased, grade point averages decreased, and the difference was statistically significant.”

“For example, the GPA of a student with specific variants of three dopaminergic genes might be around 2.8, versus a GPA of around 3.3 without the variants. That could mean the difference between being accepted into a college versus being rejected,” noted Beaver.

The study, which was published online in the Aug. 30 issue in the journal Intelligence, reports a strong correlation between the variants of dopamine genes that a student possessed and his or her GPA in different subject areas. “Dopaminergic genes affect GPA because they have previously been linked to factors associated with academic performance, including adolescent delinquency, working memory, intelligence and cognitive abilities, and ADHD, among others,” concludes the story.

The paper, titled “Three Dopaminergic Polymorphisms are Associated with Academic Achievement in Middle and High School,” offers a new understanding on how genetics may impact selected aspects of academic performance and environmental factors such as peer behavior or school conditions.

So, black parents, before you begin doping your hyperactive kids up with what you think are catch-all ADHD drugs, consider that melanin, which is a precursor for dopamine, is more prevalent in African Americans. Weigh your options. –torrance stephens, ph.d.

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