November 07, 2019
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ADHD genetics linked to maternal reproductive traits

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Female reproductive traits share a genetic link with certain psychiatric disorders in offspring, particularly ADHD, according to findings published in Scientific Reports.

The researchers analyzed genetic data from 22,685 women who were part of the UK Biobank (average age, 57 years). These participants were divided into five groups according to their age at first birth, age at first sexual intercourse, age at menarche, age at menopause and number of live births. Researchers evaluated the mean difference of polygenic risk scores.

“Some of the traits have [previously] been shown to associate with physical and mental health of offspring,” Guiyan Ni, research associate at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues wrote.

“Some of the traits have [previously] been shown to associate with physical and mental health of offspring,” Guiyan Ni, research associate at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues wrote.

According to the findings, the association between the polygenic risk score and age at first birth was positive for eating disorders, ASD and bipolar disorder, but negative for ADHD, depression and schizophrenia. ADHD polygenic risk score was also strongly associated with age at first sexual intercourse, number of live births and age at menopause.

During the course of the study, we found that the genetic correlation between ADHD and the reproductive trait was much higher than we thought. It was really interesting, and we tried to address the evolutionary hypothesis of positive association between ADHD and reproductive success,” Sang Hong Lee, PhD, associate professor at the University of South Australia School of Health Sciences and one of the co-authors told Healio.com/Psychiatry in an interview. “We were also excited to provide the new finding that can have potential to help improve women’s reproductive health.”

Results showed that the strong genetic associations between ADHD and female reproductive traits were supported by the analysis of mean different across five different age categories, linear prediction and genetic correlation using linkage disequilibrium score regression. The study did not find evidence supporting that there is a risk for psychiatric disorders modulating the phenotypes of the female productive traits.

The researchers noted that the significant associations between female reproductive traits and psychiatric disorders might be helpful in future research to improve overall female reproductive health, which can also improve the maternal environment for their child.

This latent genetic mechanism should be carefully considered in infant mental clinical practice. Our findings can potentially help improve reproductive health in women, hence better child outcomes,” Lee said. “Our findings also lend partial support to the evolutionary hypothesis that causal mutations underlying ADHD have positive effects on reproductive success.” by Erin T. Welsh

 

Disclosure: Ni reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.