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Posted on: 12-01-15
Gene decides why some kids turn into troubled adults

A recent study and research conducted at Duke University have identified a gene variant that may serve as a marker for children who are the most susceptible and vulnerable group of society. This study triggers an understanding in the biology of what makes a child sensitive to both positive and negative situations and environment. "This gives us an important clue about some of the children who need help the most" said Dustin Albert, research scientist at the Duke University's Centre for Child and Family Policy. The study found that children from high-risk backgrounds who also carried a certain common gene variant were extremely likely to develop serious problems as adults left untreated, 75 percent with the gene variant developed psychological problems by age 25, including alcohol abuse, substance abuse and antisocial personality disorder.

The picture changed dramatically, though, when children with the gene variant participated in an intensive program called the Fast Track Project. After receiving support services in childhood, just 18 percent developed psychopathology as adults.

"It is a hopeful finding. The children we studied were very susceptible to stress. But far from being doomed, they were instead particularly responsive to help” Albert added. The findings could be a first step toward potential personalized treatments for some of society's most troubled children. The study appeared in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

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