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Genetic liability to schizophrenia is associated with exposure to traumatic events in childhood

Sallis, Hannah, Croft, Jazz, Havdahl, Alexandra, Jones, Hannah, Dunn, Erin, Davey Smith, George, Zammit, Stanley and Munafo, Marcus 2020. Genetic liability to schizophrenia is associated with exposure to traumatic events in childhood. Psychological Medicine 10.1017/S0033291720000537

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Background There is a wealth of literature on the observed association between childhood trauma and psychotic illness. However, the relationship between childhood trauma and psychosis is complex and could be explained, in part, by gene–environment correlation. Methods The association between schizophrenia polygenic scores (PGS) and experiencing childhood trauma was investigated using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). Schizophrenia PGS were derived in each cohort for children, mothers, and fathers where genetic data were available. Measures of trauma exposure were derived based on data collected throughout childhood and adolescence (0–17 years; ALSPAC) and at age 8 years (MoBa). Results Within ALSPAC, we found a positive association between schizophrenia PGS and exposure to trauma across childhood and adolescence; effect sizes were consistent for both child or maternal PGS. We found evidence of an association between the schizophrenia PGS and the majority of trauma subtypes investigated, with the exception of bullying. These results were comparable with those of MoBa. Within ALSPAC, genetic liability to a range of additional psychiatric traits was also associated with a greater trauma exposure. Conclusions Results from two international birth cohorts indicate that genetic liability for a range of psychiatric traits is associated with experiencing childhood trauma. Genome-wide association study of psychiatric phenotypes may also reflect risk factors for these phenotypes. Our findings also suggest that youth at higher genetic risk might require greater resources/support to ensure they grow-up in a healthy environment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (CUP)
ISSN: 0033-2917
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 27 February 2020
Date of Acceptance: 25 February 2020
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2020 19:39

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