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Using polygenic profiles to predict variation in language and psychosocial outcomes in early and middle childhood

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  • Dianne F Newbury
  • Jenny Gibson
  • Gina Conti-Ramsden
  • Andrew Pickles
  • Kevin Durkin
  • Umar Toseeb


Publication details

JournalJournal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research (JSLHR)
DateAccepted/In press - 30 Apr 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 19 Aug 2019
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)3381-3396
Early online date19/08/19
Original languageEnglish


Purpose: Children with poor language tend to have worse psychosocial outcomes compared to their typically developing peers. The most common explanations for such adversities focus on developmental psychological processes whereby poor language triggers psychosocial difficulties. Here we investigate the possibility of shared biological effects by considering whether the same genetic variants which are thought to influence language development are also predictors of elevated psychosocial difficulties during childhood. Method: Using data from the UK based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) we created a number of multi-SNP polygenic profile scores, based on language and reading candidate genes (ATP2C2, CMIP, CNTNAP2, DCDC2, FOXP2, & KIAA0319, 1229 SNPs) in a sample of 5,435 children. Results: A polygenic profile score for expressive language (8 years) that was created in a discovery sample (n=2,718), predicted not only expressive language (8 years), but also peer problems (11 years) in a replication sample (n=2,717). Conclusions: These findings provide a proof of concept for the use of such a polygenic approach in child language research when larger datasets become available. Our indicative findings suggest consideration should be given to concurrent intervention targeting both linguistic and psychosocial development as early language interventions may not stave off later psychosocial difficulties in children.

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    Research areas

  • ALSPAC, Polygenic Risk, Language, Developmental Language Disorder, Social, Emotional, Conduct, Hyperactivity, Peer Problems, Prosocial, Psychopathology

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