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Aurora magazine

Epigenetic mechanisms in the development of behavior

Behind the behavioral problems there may be some epigenetic factors at birth. Specifically, researchers identified abnormalities in genes related to aggression and drug dependence. This is revealed by a study at King's College in London and the University of Bristol.

Behavioral problems include litigation, propensity to lie, and theft. Children who develop such attitudes before the age of 10 are at risk of chronic antisocial attitudes. This involves two types of state spending: the psychological treatment of children; Management of disadvantaged adults. It is therefore desirable to find the root of these problems, both from the human point of view and from the economic point of view.

Genetic factors account for between 50% and 80% of behavioral problems. However, little is known about how these factors interact with environmental influences, especially during fetal development. The most promising approach is to analyze changes in epigenetic processes that regulate genetic expression. The study then examined the association between epigenetic changes at birth and behavioral problems.

The researchers observed a group of children between 4 and 13 years of age. They discovered that babies with anti-social behaviors had epigenetic changes in seven DNA segments. Many of these focused on the MGLL gene, involved in dependency development. The changes were linked to the prenatal exposure to alcohol and smoking, proving how maternal behaviors affect the child's future.

Epigenetic changes increase the risk of antisocial behavior, but they are not condemnation. The study does not demonstrate a net cause and effect ratio but points out the need to follow the most vulnerable subjects. The development of the infant is in fact fundamental to the definition of future behaviors.