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Dopamine gene ups schizophrenia risk

The chances of developing schizophrenia rise substantially for the small number of children who possess only one copy of a gene variant that regulates a crucial chemical messenger in the brain, according to a new finding of a long-term investigation.

A team led by psychiatrist Allan L. Reiss of Stanford University School of Medicine studied 24 children missing a small piece of DNA on chromosome 22. About 30 percent of youngsters with this deletion, which occurs in 1 in 4,000 births, eventually develop the severe mental disorder schizophrenia or related psychotic conditions. These children are also prone to other problems, including heart defects, cleft palate, and learning disorders.

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