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Profiles in Melancholy, Resilience: Abused kids react to genetics, adult support

Parental neglect and abuse leave many children feeling hopeless and despondent. Yet some youngsters weather such maltreatment remarkably well. In a new study, scientists offer a rare peek at how genetics and interactions with adults collaborate either to depress mood or to foster resilience in abused kids.

Maltreated children who inherit two copies of a gene variant that was previously recognized to weaken the brain's mood regulation exhibit a marked propensity to become depressed only if they don't have a positive relationship with at least one adult, concludes a team led by psychiatrist Joan Kaufman of Yale University School of Medicine.

Kaufman's team studied 101 children, 57 of whom had been removed from their parents' care in the previous 6 months because of various types of abuse or domestic violence. The rest had no history of abuse and lived with their parents.

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