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. 2017 Jun 13;8:15833.
doi: 10.1038/ncomms15833.

Reproductive Fitness and Genetic Risk of Psychiatric Disorders in the General Population

Free PMC article

Reproductive Fitness and Genetic Risk of Psychiatric Disorders in the General Population

Niamh Mullins et al. Nat Commun. .
Free PMC article


The persistence of common, heritable psychiatric disorders that reduce reproductive fitness is an evolutionary paradox. Here, we investigate the selection pressures on sequence variants that predispose to schizophrenia, autism, bipolar disorder, major depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using genomic data from 150,656 Icelanders, excluding those diagnosed with these psychiatric diseases. Polygenic risk of autism and ADHD is associated with number of children. Higher polygenic risk of autism is associated with fewer children and older age at first child whereas higher polygenic risk of ADHD is associated with having more children. We find no evidence for a selective advantage of a high polygenic risk of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Rare copy-number variants conferring moderate to high risk of psychiatric illness are associated with having fewer children and are under stronger negative selection pressure than common sequence variants.

Conflict of interest statement

A.I., S.Ó, D.F.G., Ó.Ó.G., M.L.F., A.K., A.H., G.B.W., O.G., H.S. and K.S. are employees of deCODE Genetics/Amgen. The remaining authors declare no competing financial interests.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Polygenic risk scores for psychiatric disorders predict their corresponding disorder in the general population of Iceland.
The x axis shows the seven P-value parameters (0.001, 0.003, 0.01, 0.03, 0.1, 0.3 and 1.0) used to weight SNPs from the discovery GWAS plotted left to right. The y axis indicates the Nagelkerke’s pseudo-R2 measure of variance explained.

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