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Study says genes may impact deliquency in teens


New Jersey families might benefit from learning more about a recent study that link common genes and their variants to violent behavior or delinquency. The subjects of the study published by the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology on Dec. 11 included variants of the 5-HTTLPR, BDNF and MAOA genes. A less active variant of each of these genes can be found in a significant proportion of the population. Researchers found that stress or trauma experienced early in life may interact with the genes and affect some individual's sensitivity to their environment.

The changes occur as a coping mechanism to prepare a young brain for the potential dangers that may be experienced later in life. Under negative circumstances, people with these genes may be more susceptible to experience worse outcomes than the average person. However, under positive circumstances, these people are typically able to obtain better outcomes than the average person.

A less active variant of MAOA, was reported to be prominent in 25 percent of the Caucasian male population. A low expressing variant of BDNF was found to be present in 30 percent of the sample and is associated with aggressiveness, and a low activity version of 5-HTTLPR, a serotonin transporter, was present in 20 percent of the sample. The study showed that in those smaller groups, environmental factors, such as adversity in childhood, was associated with antisocial behavior.

People who have been accused of committing a delinquent act or prohibited offense may benefit from obtaining legal counsel who can construct a viable defense. Criminal defense lawyers might be able to challenge the prosecution's case by investigating the allegations in an effort to determine whether state or law enforcement officials committed any errors or violations that could be critical in getting the case dismissed or acquittal.

Source: Newsweek, "New Study Reveals Antisocial Behaviour is Linked to Genetics", Amelia Smith, December 15, 2014

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