Researchers in psychiatry at Cardiff University believe that the presence of a specific gene mutation and low birth weight appear to increase the risk of anti-social behaviour in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(AD/HD).
The report appears in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
Professor Anita Thapar from the Department of Psychological Medicine undertook a study of 240 youngsters aged 5 to 14 years.
She says the gene, COMT seems to precipitate antisocial behaviour if the children are born with low birth weight.
The six-year study found average conduct disorder scores were higher in children with the COMT gene mutation and those with birth weights lower than 2500g.
Professor Thapar said:
“It’s complex, and the gene increases only the possibility of antisocial behaviour.The gene is linked with the brain’s prefrontal lobes, These seem to determine traits such as honesty, impulsivity and self-control. Environmental factors, such as poor nutrition in the womb, may determine if the gene begins to affect people’s behaviour.”