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Gene makes kids more vulnerable to bullying's effects

Victims with a genetic variant have more emotional problems

By
12:46pm, May 21, 2010

There’s nothing fair about getting bullied at school. To add insult to injury, a new study finds that bullied kids who happen to have inherited one form of a stress-related gene develop the most emotional problems. 

Symptoms of anxiety, depression and social withdrawal appeared most often in regularly bullied kids who possessed two copies of a short version of the 5-HTT gene, says a team led by psychologist Karen Sugden of Duke University in Durham, N.C.

One-third of bullied children who had two shorter copies of the gene displayed emotional problems severe enough to merit mental health treatment, the researchers say. That figure fell to 29 percent for regularly bullied kids carrying one short copy of the gene and 15 percent for those with two long copies.

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