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Nature Research, Scientific Reports, 1(9), 2019

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-48403-x



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The genetic relationship between female reproductive traits and six psychiatric disorders

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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AbstractFemale reproductive behaviours have important implications for evolutionary fitness and health of offspring. Here we used the second release of UK Biobank data (N = 220,685) to evaluate the association between five female reproductive traits and polygenic risk scores (PRS) projected from genome-wide association study summary statistics of six psychiatric disorders (N = 429,178). We found that the PRS of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were strongly associated with age at first birth (AFB) (genetic correlation of −0.68 ± 0.03), age at first sexual intercourse (AFS) (−0.56 ± 0.03), number of live births (NLB) (0.36 ± 0.04) and age at menopause (−0.27 ± 0.04). There were also robustly significant associations between the PRS of eating disorder (ED) and AFB (0.35 ± 0.06), ED and AFS (0.19 ± 0.06), major depressive disorder (MDD) and AFB (−0.27 ± 0.07), MDD and AFS (−0.27 ± 0.03) and schizophrenia and AFS (−0.10 ± 0.03). These associations were mostly explained by pleiotropic effects and there was little evidence of causal relationships. Our findings can potentially help improve reproductive health in women, hence better child outcomes. Our findings also lend partial support to the evolutionary hypothesis that causal mutations underlying psychiatric disorders have positive effects on reproductive success.