Higher levels of genetic vulnerability for depression in adulthood have been linked to emotional, social, and psychiatric problems in children.
The University of Queensland scientists discovered the result while analysing genetic data from more than 42,000 children, adolescents, and parents in seven cohorts from the UK, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
Christel Middeldorp stated that researchers also found a link between higher genetic vulnerability to insomnia, neuroticism, and body mass.
Professor Middeldorp stated that children with better genetic scores for emotional well-being and educational attainment were more likely to have less childhood problems.
“We calculated a person’s level of genetic vulnerability using the number of risk genes they have for a specific disorder. We then adjusted the adjustments based upon the importance of each gene.
“We found that the relationship was mostly similar across all ages.”
These results show that there are common genetic factors that influence a variety of psychiatric traits and related traits throughout a person’s life.
Professor Christel Middeldorp stated that approximately 50% of children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), still experience mental disorders as adults. They are at risk of becoming disengaged from their school community, as well as other social and emotional problems.
Professor Christel Middledeldorp stated, “Our findings are significant as they suggest that continuity between childhood and adults traits is partly explained genetic risk.”
“Those at greatest risk should be treated and given targeted attention.
“Genetic vulnerability is not yet accurate enough to predict how a person will develop over time. However, it could become so in the future when combined with other risk factors.
“This may help precision medicine by providing targeted treatments for children at highest risk of social and emotional problems.”
Materials provided by University of Queensland. Note: Content can be edited for style or length.