Suboptimal Neuromotor Development May Increase Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia

infant playing with building blocks
infant playing with building blocks
Nonoptimal infant neuromotor development was linked to genetic risk for schizophrenia, but not bipolar disorder.

According to the results of a recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry, genetic risk for schizophrenia was linked to nonoptimal infant neuromotor development. No such link was noted for bipolar disorder.

In this genome-wide association study, 1174 infants of European ancestry underwent neuromotor examination between age 2 and 5 months (median 2.9 months). Scores in the highest tertile were considered indicative of nonoptimal neuromotor development. Researchers evaluated associations between neuromotor development and polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the infants.

The polygenic risk score for schizophrenia was significantly associated with nonoptimal infant neuromotor development (odds ratio [OR] 1.15, 95% CI 1.01-1.30; P =.03), while the polygenic risk score for bipolar disorder was not (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.84-1.08; P =.44).

According to the investigators, study limitations include that “genetic pleiotropy or early environmental factors could also explain the association.” Furthermore, the study may not have been powered to detect associations between polygenic risk scores for bipolar disorder and neuromotor development.

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Nonetheless, the researchers concluded that “this is the first evidence that genetic liability for schizophrenia may covary with altered neuromotor development in infancy. Future research will show whether early neuromotor development can support early screening of susceptible groups possibly defined by genetic risk.”


Serdarevic F, Jansen PR, Ghassabian A, et al. Association of genetic risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with infant neuromotor development [published online November 8, 2017]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.3459

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor