Friday, September 27, 2013

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

Prenatal stress can be a cause of conduct disorder in children only if they possess a particular variant of the dopamine receptor gene, a study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests. The senior researcher was Manfred Laucht of the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. The researchers evaluated prenatal stress in 308 women, then followed their children until age 15 to see whether the children developed DSM-IV conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. The children were also genotyped to see which variant of the dopamine receptor gene they possessed. The researchers found that prenatal stress alone did not increase the children's risk of having conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder. But it did do so in children who had one or two copies of a particular variant of the dopamine receptor gene—the 7r variant.

Thus, reducing prenatal stress might be a way to reduce the risk of conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder in  children who have the dopamine receptor gene variant in question, the researchers believe. Commenting on the study for Psychiatric News, Adelaide Robb, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine, said the significance of the study is the researchers' conclusion that "reduction in prenatal stress might be a primary-prevention measure for the development of externalizing disorders.”

Information about brain abnormalities that appear to contribute to conduct disorder, along with possible therapeutic or preventive implications, can be found in the Psychiatric News article "Brain Abnormalities Found in Girls With Conduct Disorder."

(Image: ffoto29/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.