Can genetic variants predict depression risk in young people?

A new study looks at the genetic makeup of thousands of adults with depression to try to find an accurate way of predicting which children and adolescents may be at risk of developing this mental health problem.

Researchers identify a genetic risk score that could help predict depression risk in the young.

Many factors determine a person’s risk of depression, and these include both genetic and environmental factors, such as going through difficult life events or taking medications with certain side effects.

However, while we already know some of the probable risk factors, it is not always easy to predict who is most at risk of depression, especially early on in life.

Recently, researchers from institutions all over the world have joined forces to investigate whether they can find a way of predicting a child or adolescent’s risk of depression by analyzing the genetic makeup of adults with depression and coming up with a “map” of likely genetic culprits.

Their efforts, the investigators say, would also make it easier to understand which individuals have more exposure to mental health events before some potentially confounding factors set in.

The researchers hail from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich, Germany, the Emory University in Atlanta, GA, the University of Coimbra in Portugal, and the University of Helsinki in Finland.

In their study, the researchers calculated polygenic risk score — the quantification of the possible effects of different combinations of genetic variations — using the findings of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which looked at data from more than 460,000 adults.

 

 

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