Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Heritability of a General Psychopathology Factor in Children.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


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.


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).


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).


Common autosomal SNPs are pleiotropically associated with internalizing, externalizing, and other child behavior problems, and underlie a general psychopathology factor in childhood.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Neumann, A; Pappa, I; Lahey, BB; Verhulst, FC; Medina-Gomez, C; Jaddoe, VW; Bakermans-Kranenburg, MJ; Moffitt, TE; van IJzendoorn, MH; Tiemeier, H

Published Date

  • December 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 55 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 1038 - 1045.e4

PubMed ID

  • 27871638

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1527-5418

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0890-8567

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jaac.2016.09.498


  • eng