Monday, October 7, 2013

Gene Study Finds Prenatal Stress May Lead to Conduct Disorder Under Certain Conditions

Prenatal stress can lead to conduct disorder in children if they possess a particular variant of the dopamine gene, a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests. It was led by Katrin Zohsel, Ph.D., of the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. The researchers evaluated prenatal stress in 308 women, then followed up their children until age 15 to see whether the children developed DSM-IV-diagnosed conduct disorder and/or oppositional defiant disorder. The children were also genotyped to see which variant of the dopamine gene they possessed.

The researchers found that prenatal stress alone did not increase the children's risk of having conduct disorder and/or oppositional defiant disorder. But it did do so in the children who had one or two copies of a particular variant of the dopamine gene—the 7r variant.

Thus reducing prenatal stress might be a way to reduce the risk of conduct disorder and/or oppositional defiant disorder in children who have the dopamine gene variant in question, the researchers believe. They noted as well that their study "is the first to report a gene–environment interaction related to DRD4 and prenatal maternal stress using data from a prospective study, which extends earlier findings on the impact of prenatal maternal stress with respect to childhood antisocial behavior."

To read more about research into the risks for development of conduct disorder, along with potential therapeutic or preventive implications, see the Psychiatric News article "Brain Abnormalities Found in Girls With Conduct Disorder."

(Image: Vesna Cvorovic/


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