Genetics of early-life head circumference and genetic correlations with neurological, psychiatric and cognitive outcomes

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Background: Head circumference is associated with intelligence and tracks from childhood into adulthood.

Methods: We performed a genome-wide association study meta-analysis and follow-up of head circumference in a total of 29,192 participants between 6 and 30 months of age.

Results: Seven loci reached genome-wide significance in the combined discovery and replication analysis of which three loci near ARFGEF2, MYCL1, and TOP1, were novel. We observed positive genetic correlations for early-life head circumference with adult intracranial volume, years of schooling, childhood and adult intelligence, but not with adult psychiatric, neurological, or personality-related phenotypes.

Conclusions: The results of this study indicate that the biological processes underlying early-life head circumference overlap largely with those of adult head circumference. The associations of early-life head circumference with cognitive outcomes across the life course are partly explained by genetics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalBMC Medical Genomics
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Head circumference, Infancy, Genetic correlations, Genome-Wide Association Study

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