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Using genetics to examine a general liability to childhood psychopathology

By Lucy Riglin, Ajay K Thapar, Beate Leppert, Joanna Martin, Alexander Richards, Richard Anney, George Davey Smith, Kate Tilling, Evie Stergiakouli, Benjamin B. Lahey, Michael C O’Donovan, Stephan Collishaw, Anita Thapar

Posted 12 Sep 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/409540

Psychiatric disorders show phenotypic as well as genetic overlaps. There are however also marked developmental changes throughout childhood. We investigated the extent to which, for a full range of early childhood psychopathology, a general "p" factor was explained by genetic liability, as indexed by multiple different psychiatric polygenic risk scores (PRS) and whether these relationships altered with age. The sample was a UK, prospective, population-based cohort with psychopathology data at age 7 (N=8161) and age 13 (N=7017). PRS were generated from large published genome-wide association studies. At both ages, we found evidence for a childhood "p" factor as well as for specific factors. Schizophrenia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) PRS were associated with this general "p" factor at both ages but depression and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) PRS were not. Schizophrenia, ADHD and depression PRS were also associated with specific factors but there was evidence for developmental changes.

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