Is there a ‘naughty’ gene?

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.”

From Cardiff University UK

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