Objective Co-occurrence of mental disorders is commonly observed, but the etiology underlying this observation is poorly understood. Studies in adolescents and adults have identified a general psychopathology factor associated with a high risk for different psychiatric disorders. We defined a multi-informant general psychopathology factor in school-aged children and estimated its single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) heritability. The goal was to test the hypothesis that child behavioral and emotional problems are under the influence of highly pleiotropic common autosomal genetic variants that nonspecifically increase the risk for different dimensions of psychopathology. Method Children from the Generation R cohort were repeatedly assessed between ages 6 to 8 years. Child behavior problems were reported by parents, teachers, and children. Confirmatory factor analysis estimated a general psychopathology factor across informants using various psychiatric problem scales. Validation of the general psychopathology factor was based on IQ and temperamental measures. Genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) was used to estimate the SNP heritability (N = 2,115). Results The general psychopathology factor was associated with lower IQ, higher negative affectivity, and lower effortful control, but not with surgency. Importantly, the general psychopathology factor showed a significant SNP heritability of 38% (SE = 0.16, p =.008). Conclusion Common autosomal SNPs are pleiotropically associated with internalizing, externalizing, and other child behavior problems, and underlie a general psychopathology factor in childhood.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2016.09.498, hdl.handle.net/1765/94453
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Neumann, A., Pappa, M., Lahey, B.B. (Benjamin B.), Verhulst, F., Medina-Gomez, C., Jaddoe, V., … Tiemeier, H. (2016). Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Heritability of a General Psychopathology Factor in Children. In American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Journal (Vol. 55, pp. 1038–1045.e4). doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2016.09.498