AN OXFORD Brookes academic has suggested there could be genetic reasons for why some children with poor language also have poor mental health.

A University of York-led study – in collaboration with Brookes researcher Dr Dianne Newbury – examined genetic variants in six genes that are thought to contribute to language development in kids.

The Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research published study suggests nearly half of genetic variants contributing to children’s language are associated with poor mental health.

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Dr Newbury, from the Department of Biological and Medical Sciences, said: “This is the first study to demonstrate these genetic effects but they need to be replicated in larger independent datasets to confirm the findings.

“We looked at genetic variation across six genes, but there are many thousands more in the human genome that we did not investigate, so these results only represent a subset of the relevant networks.

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The team analysed data from more than 5,000 Bristol children.

Researchers say the findings, if replicated, could have implications for mental health provision for children with language disorders.