Fertility, Child Development & Childhood Disorders
A number of researchers work on research questions to do with fertility, child development & childhood disorders, including:
Current projects and links to research websites can be found below.
Cardiff Fertility Studies
Helping you become in-Psych and in-Sync with your fertility potential. We study all aspects of fertility health to better understand the experiences of men and women trying to become parents. Our work:
- Helps to better document the experiences of people trying to conceive
- Supports people trying to conceive
- Optimises conditions for fertility
- Guides professionals to take a patient-centred approach in their care of people trying to conceive
- Provides the evidence that policy makers need to prioritise fertility issues
Wales Autism Research Centre
Advancing scientific understanding to create positive change. Wales Autism Research Centre (WARC) was initiated through a unique collaboration between Autism Cymru and Autistica, the School of Psychology, Cardiff University and the Welsh Assembly Government.
The South London Child Development Study (SLCDS)
Channi Kumar (deceased)
Susan Pawlby (Institute of Psychiatry, London)
Dale Hay (Cardiff University)
Deborah Sharp (General Practice, Bristol)
A 16+ year study of children who were born in two of the most disadvantaged boroughs of the UK from their mothers' pregnancies through the final year of GCSEs. We have focused especially on mothers' and children's mental health and children's educational outcomes
Medical Resaerch Council
The Mental Health Foundation
South West GP Trust
Children of women who were depressed in pregnancy are at risk for violence in adolescence (Hay et al., Child Development, 2010). Sons of women who were depressed at three months post partum have significantly lower IQ scores (at ages 4, 11 and 16) than other boys (Hay et al., 2001, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry).
Based on these finidngs, Hay, Sharp and Pawlby have consulted on national guidelines (SIGN and NICE) for the identification and treatment of perinatal depression.
Antisocial behaviour in youngsters with ADHD: Identifying risk pathways
Antisocial behaviour and Conduct Disorder (CD) are the most common childhood mental health problems. They also lead to problems in adult life. Childhood-onset CD accompanied by ADHD appears to be especially important, but currently available treatments do not appear to have longterm benefits. Although family and social factors all contribute to antisocial behaviour, inherited factors also seem important. Interestingly, a gene variant that affects a brain enzyme called COMT has been found to be associated with antisocial behaviour in children with ADHD.
In particular, the COMT val/val genotype has been implicated in ADHD and CD in five independent studies, and these studies suggest that there is a biological as well as a clinical distinction for CD problems accompanied by ADHD. Previous studies, including our own, suggest that the COMT Val/Val genotype is associated with both executive function deficits and affective/emotional dysfunction. Evidence from our previous study of the ALSPAC population cohort using questionnaire assessments suggested that affective problems rather than executive dysfunction mediates the link between COMT Val/Val and conduct problems in children with ADHD. Further research using more detailed tests of children's cognitive and affective processing is now being done in the School of Psychology to confirm this. In this research we experimentally compare 137 children with ADHD, who carry the COMT val/val high risk genotype, with 137 ADHD children who possess the lower risk genotype (met allele carriers) on tasks tapping affective components of CD (including psychophysiological measures) vs. executive function constructs (intermediate phenotypes) that have previously been found to be associated with CD problems and the COMT val/val variant in normal individuals.
This research is important because it will lead to a better understanding of specific risk pathways using genetic and cognitive evidence and guide future new treatments and preventions. A better understanding this subgroup of children with ADHD who also have conduct problems can reduce the immediate and long-term risks to the child, family and society. This is especially important given that it is well established that both conduct problems and ADHD result in substantial health and social care costs and economic burden.
Medical Research Council (MRC)
Fairchild, G., van Goozen, S. H. M., Stollery, S., Brown, J., Day, J., Herbert, J., & Goodyer, I. M. (2008). Cortisol diurnal rhythm and reactivity during psychosocial stress in male adolescents with early-onset or adolescence-onset Conduct Disorder and control participants. Biological Psychiatry,64, 599-606.
Langley, K., Heron, J., O’Donovan, M.C., Owen, M.J., & Thapar, A. (in press). Genotype link with extreme antisocial behavior: the contribution of cognitive pathways. Archives of General Psychiatry.
Snoek, H., Van Goozen, S.H.M., Matthys W., Buitelaar, J.K., & Van Engeland, H. (2004). Stress responsivity in children with externalizing behavior disorders. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 389-406.
Thapar A, Langley K, Fowler T, et al. (2005). Catechol O-methyltransferase gene variant and birth weight predict early-onset antisocial behavior in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 1275-1278.
Van Goozen, S.H.M., Cohen-Kettenis, P.T., Snoek, H., Matthys W., Swaab-Barneveld, H., & Van Engeland, H. (2004). Executive functioning in children: A comparison of hospitalized ODD and ODD/ADHD children and normal controls. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 284-292.