Gene May Determine Bullying Response

LONDON, July 24 (UPI) — U.S. and British researchers say they discovered a genetic variation that moderates whether victims of bullying will develop emotional problems.

Dr. Karen Sugden of King’s College London and colleagues report on a study of 2,232 same-sex 5-year-old twins, who were assessed psychologically at age 5 and reassessed at age 12.

In addition, DNA samples were acquired from the children to determine the presence or absence of the genetic variation under investigation.

The researchers observed that genetic differences in the 5-HTTLPR gene, specifically the SS genotype, interact with bullying victimization to exacerbate emotional problems.

The study, scheduled to be published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, says the strength of the genetically influenced response was related to the frequency of the bullying experience — i.e., the gene and environment interaction was strongest for frequently bullied children.

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