Investigating the Link between Perinatal Factors and Psychopathic Traits on a Greek Sample of Adolescents with and without Conduct Disorder

Title: Investigating the link between perinatal factors and psychopathic traits on a Greek sample of adolescents with and without conduct disorder.   

Background: Conduct disorder (CD) is a common psychiatric disorder of childhood and adolescence, characterized by a persistent and repetitive pattern of destructive behavior that violates social rules and involves significant impairment in social and/or academic functioning. Children and adolescents with CD have a higher risk of developing a number of dysfunction characteristics, i.e. emotional and behavioral problems, aggression, and psychopathic traits. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between these characteristics, perinatal factors and CD.

Methods: The sample consisted of 121 Greek children and adolescents, who participated in the “FemNAT-CD” European study. Fifty-five (45.5%) of the participants had the diagnosis of CD, and 61 (54.5%) were healthy (control group). Basic demographic and perinatal information were collected by using parents’-reported Medical History questionnaire. Participants’ mental health issues, aggression and psychopathic traits were assessed using the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument II (MAYSI-II), the Reactive-Proactive Aggression Questionnaire (RPQ), and the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory (YPI), respectively.

Results: Mothers of participants with CD reported significantly more frequently the occurrence of partner violent behavior during pregnancy vs. the mothers of controls. Mother’s substance-alcohol use during pregnancy, gestational duration, perinatal health problems and birth weight were not significantly related to participants’ behavioral needs, aggression and psychopathic traits based on the whole study population. Within participants with CD, maternal smoking during pregnancy was significantly associated with participant higher scores in anger-irritability (proactive, reactive, and whole), aggression and psychopathic traits; for this group partner violence during pregnancy was associated with higher participants’ psychopathic traits.

Conclusions: There is evidence for a link between maternal smoking and violence against the mother during pregnancy and CD in the offspring. Further research on larger samples is necessary in order to gain a deeper understanding of how multiple factors contribute to the development of CD and to its severity.

Author(s): Nikolaos Pepelias, Zacharias Kalogerakis, Alexandra Petroutsou, Fotini Tsiakoulia, Helen Lazaratou and Dimitris Dikeos

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