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Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by age-inappropriate symptoms of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity that persist into adulthood in the majority of the diagnosed children. Despite several risk factors during childhood predicting the persistence of ADHD symptoms into adulthood, the genetic architecture underlying the trajectory of ADHD over time is still unclear. We set out to study the contribution of common genetic variants to the risk for ADHD across the lifespan by conducting meta-analyses of genome-wide association studies on persistent ADHD in adults and ADHD in childhood separately and comparing the genetic background between them in a total sample of 17,149 cases and 32,411 controls. Our results show nine new independent loci and support a shared contribution of common genetic variants to ADHD in children and adults. No subgroup heterogeneity was observed among children, while this group consists of future remitting and persistent individuals. We report similar patterns of genetic correlation of ADHD with other ADHD-related datasets and different traits and disorders among adults, children and when combining both groups. These findings confirm that persistent ADHD in adults is a neurodevelopmental disorder and extend the existing hypothesis of a shared genetic architecture underlying ADHD and different traits to a lifespan perspective.

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