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    Developmental milestones in early childhood and genetic liability to neurodevelopmental disorders

    Hannigan, L. and Askeland, R.B. and Ask, H. and Tesli, M. and Corfield, E. and Ayorech, Z. and Magnus, P. and Njølstad, P.R. and Øyen, A-S. and Stoltenberg, C. and Andreassen, O.A. and Ronald, Angelica and Davey Smith, G. and Reichborn-Kjennerud, T. and Havdahl, A. (2023) Developmental milestones in early childhood and genetic liability to neurodevelopmental disorders. Psychological Medicine 53 (5), pp. 1750-1758. ISSN 0033-2917.

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    Background: Timing of developmental milestones, such as age at first walking, is associated with later diagnoses of neurodevelopmental disorders. However, its relationship to genetic risk for neurodevelopmental disorders in the general population is unknown. Here, we investigate associations between attainment of early-life language and motor development milestones and genetic liability to autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia. Methods: We use data from a genotyped sub-set (N = 25699) of children in the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa). We calculate polygenic scores (PGS) for autism, ADHD, and schizophrenia and predict maternal reports of children's age at first walking, first words, and first sentences, motor delays (18 months), and language delays and a generalised measure of concerns about development (3 years). We use linear and probit regression models in a multi-group framework to test for sex differences. Results: We found that ADHD PGS were associated with earlier walking age (β = −0.033, padj < 0.001) in both males and females. Additionally, autism PGS were associated with later walking (β = 0.039, padj = 0.006) in females only. No robust associations were observed for schizophrenia PGS or between any neurodevelopmental PGS and measures of language developmental milestone attainment. Conclusions: Genetic liabilities for neurodevelopmental disorders show some specific associations with the age at which children first walk unsupported. Associations are small but robust and, in the case of autism PGS, differentiated by sex. These findings suggest that early-life motor developmental milestone attainment is associated with genetic liability to ADHD and autism in the general population.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Angelica Ronald
    Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2022 13:06
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:19


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