Developmental dyscalculia is a familial learning disability

Ruth S. Shalev*, Orly Manor, Batsheva Kerem, Mady Ayali, Navah Badichi, Yechiel Friedlander, Varda Gross-Tsur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Whereas current evidence attests to a genetic component in the etiology of dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), little is known about the role of genetics in developmental dyscalculia (DC). The objective of this study was to determine the familial aggregation of DC. Siblings and parents of children with DC were assessed for arithmetic, reading and attention disorders. The criteria for DC were an IQ higher than 85, poor performance in arithmetic, and a significant discrepancy between arithmetic achievement and IQ. The study group was composed of 39 children with DC, 21 mothers, 22 fathers, 90 siblings, and 16 second-degree relatives. We found that 66% of mothers, 40% of fathers, 53% of siblings, and 44% of second-degree relatives had DC. The intraclass correlation between the sib pairs was .27. A 95% confidential interval (CI) for the prevalence of DC among siblings of DC probands (see Note 1) ranged from 40% to 64%, indicating a familial prevalence almost tenfold higher than expected for the general population. IQ and attention problems were not risk factors for DC. We conclude that DC, like other learning disabilities, has a significant familial aggregation, suggesting a role for genetics in the evolution of this disorder.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)59-65
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


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