Prague Med. Rep. 2022, 123, 215-224

ADHD – What Is the Meaning of Sex-dependent Incidence Differences?

Jindřich Mourek, Jaroslav Pokorný

Institute of Physiology, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Received June 23, 2022
Accepted October 18, 2022

There is a clear experience in clinical practice: boys with a diagnosis of ADHD are clearly in greater numbers than girls. It is noteworthy that even in the “older” review articles, the cause of sex-dependent incidence is not mentioned. If we accept the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of such disorder, then the possible genetic predisposition breaks down into two separate groups. On the genome of an individual with ADHD and on the genome of the parents. However, it cannot be overlooked that the incidence of ADHD (3–7%) corresponds to the incidence and sex differences of the number of newborns born at a certain risk (premature birth, immaturity, hypotrophy, hypoxic-ischemic syndrome, low birth weight, etc.). This association of possible genetic predisposition with “external” risks in the genesis of ADHD raises the question of whether a higher incidence of ADHD, as well as higher morbidity and mortality in males, are a) the norm and the female is privileged, or b) the female is the norm and the male is handicapped. The picture of ADHD includes various cognitive dysfunctions with one possible cause in norepinephrine and dopamine insufficiency. Experimental work shows that in response to stress females release more catecholamines in the CNS than males. Since catecholamines stimulate membrane Na+ K+ ATPase activity, this means both the value of the membrane potential and the threshold for activation is increased. Females are more successful in responding to and adapting to a stressful situation due to their higher production of noradrenaline in the CNS.


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