Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry in London say that the gene for a type of enzyme called MAO-A, which had previously been linked to a number of anti-social behaviour disorders, is also responsible for making kids unbehaved.
Some young people have a high risk of falling into a life of crime and anti-social behaviour because of a biological predisposition to aggression - but only if they also suffer from bad parenting, poverty or abuse in childhood, researchers say.
Identifying these genes could make it possible to intervene with treatments before children get into trouble. The researchers uncovered the link using blood samples from a study of 535 boys and 502 , the New Scientist reports.
They focused on the gene for a type of enzyme called MAO-A. Boys who had a low-activity variant of the gene were much more prone to delinquency, but only if they were also among the 36 per cent who had been abused as children.
Boys with the high-activity variant were less inclined to behave anti-socially, even if they had suffered from abuse in their childhoods.
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