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Using genetics to examine a general liability to childhood psychopathology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalBehavior Genetics
Early online date11 Dec 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Nov 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 11 Dec 2019


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. We also found some evidence of associations between schizophrenia, ADHD and depression PRS with specific factors, but these were less robust and there was evidence for developmental changes.

    Research areas

  • ALSPAC, Psychopathology, p-factor, Childhood, Polygenic risk scores, Genetic

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