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Developmentally dynamic genome: Evidence of genetic influences on increases and decreases in conduct problems from early childhood to adolescence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Jean-Baptiste Pingault, Frühling Rijsdijk, Yao Zheng, Robert Plomin, Essi Viding

Original languageEnglish
Article number10053
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2015


King's Authors


The development of conduct problems in childhood and adolescence is associated with adverse long-term outcomes, including psychiatric morbidity. Although genes constitute a proven factor of stability in conduct problems, less is known regarding their role in conduct problems’ developmental course (i.e. systematic age changes, for instance linear increases or decreases).Mothers rated conduct problems from age 4 to 16 years in 10,038 twin pairs from the Twins Early Development Study. Individual differences in the baseline level (.78; 95% CI: .68-.88) and the developmental course of conduct problems (.73; 95% CI: .60-.86) were under high and largely independent additive genetic influences. Shared environment made a small contribution to the baseline level but not to the developmental course of conduct problems. These results show that genetic influences not only contribute to behavioural stability but also explain systematic change in conduct problems. Different sets of genes may be associated with the developmental course versus the baseline level of conduct problems. The structure of genetic and environmental influences on the development of conduct problems suggests that repeated preventive interventions at different developmental stages might be necessary to achieve a long-term impact.

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