Study Links Environmental Factors To Conduct Disorder

A new study has linked environmental factors to conduct disorder. The study revealed that the frequency of the nonaggressive symptoms of conduct disorder appears to significantly increase across generational lines in Mexican-origin groups following migration to the United States. The study was conducted by an international group of researchers at the UC Davis Health System, RAND Corporation, and National Institute of Psychiatry in Mexico City, said The Daily Democrat.

“Our study shows that there is a large difference in risk for conduct disorder between Mexicans living in Mexico and people of Mexican descent living in the United States,” said Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, professor of clinical internal medicine who directs the UCD Center for Reducing Health Disparities and the Community Engagement Program of the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, said The Daily Democrat. “This increase in risk occurring across generations within a migrating population strongly points to the influence of early childhood environmental factors in the United States and the potential to intervene to reduce the prevalence of conduct disorder,” he added.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM), describes conduct disorder as ongoing patterns of aggressive childhood or adolescent behavior or other behaviors that operate against typical and age-appropriate norms, causing what the DSM describes as clinical impairment, said The Daily Democrat. Conduct disorder is a disorder of childhood and adolescence that involves long-term (chronic) behavior problems, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) explained. For an accurate diagnosis, the behavior must be far more extreme than simple adolescent rebellion or childish enthusiasm.

Children with conduct disorder tend to be impulsive and break rules for no apparent reason; they also tend to be hard to control, not concerned about the others’ feelings, are cruel or aggressive toward people or animals, bully and fight, use dangerous weapons, force sex, steal, miss school (typically before age 13), drink heavily or use illicit drugs, set fires, lie to avoid certain activities or to get something, run away, and vandalize or destroy property. These children do not hide their behaviors and may develop personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder, the NCBI added.

The team reviewed conduct disorder as it related to four groups people based on their exposure to American culture: Nonimmigrant Mexican homes with no U.S. exposure, Mexicans from migrant households who lived in Mexico until they were 15 years old, children of Mexican migrants who were raised in the U.S., and Mexican-American children of U.S.-born parents, The Daily Democrat explained. Data was derived via in-person interviews with about 1,800 adults 18-44 years of age in Mexican household populations and people of Mexican descent in the U.S.

Compared to the general population of Mexico with no history of U.S. migration, 11.5% of Mexican-American children with at least one U.S.-born parent met DSM-IV criteria for conduct disorder compared to Mexicans from migrant households who lived in Mexico until age 15, said The Daily Democrat. This level was similar to the nonMexican-American, U.S.-born sample prevalence of 10.6%, said The Daily Democrat.

“We found a striking epidemiological pattern with differences across generations that are both larger in magnitude and more narrow in scope that anyone expected,” said Joshua Breslau, a RAND Corporation researcher and study lead. Beslau conducted the research when he was an assistant professor of internal medicine at UC Davis Health System, explained The Daily Democrat. “Future studies will be needed to identify the specific environmental factors that contribute to these differences,” Beslau added.

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