Tracing the Roots of Mental Health to Pre-Birth Gene Expression

These findings were from a study at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), a founding member of Mass General Brigham (MGB), published in


Using data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, a federally funded study of child and adolescent brain development that has enrolled nearly 12,000 individuals at age 9-10 years, the group first assessed whether genetic patterns that have been associated with psychiatric illnesses in adults also tracked with psychiatric symptoms in children.

Uncovering the Role of Fetal Brain Genes

“We found those relationships to be more complex than we had imagined. For example, genetic risk for ADHD and depression were associated with a range of symptoms in children, not just those related to attention or mood,” says co-senior author Joshua Roffman, MD, director of MGH’s Early Brain Development Initiative. “The genetic factors that shape mental illness symptoms in kids differ from the ones that shape

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