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Genetic influences on life events in childhood

  • Anita Thapar (a1) and Peter McGuffin (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

Until recently, life events were considered as chance occurrences. However, there is now increasing evidence that reported life events, at least in adult life are not random. Life events not only tend to cluster in families but also appear to be influenced by genetic factors. The aim of this study was to investigate whether genetic factors also influence reported life events in childhood using a systematically ascertained sample of 376 twin pairs aged 8 to 17. Overall, reported life events in this younger population were found to be heritable. However, the degree of genetic and environmental influence appeared to vary across the sexes, at least for parent-rated life events and according to whether life events were rated by the parents or the children themselves. Genetic influences appeared to be more important for self reports, suggesting that individual differences in cognition play a role in reporting life events.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr Anita Thapar, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Pendlebury, Manchester M27 4HA.
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