Review of behavioural phenotypes identifies trends across lifespan


The researchers in this review set out to look at the complexity of the relationship between the genotype (genetic makeup) and phenotype (physical characteristics) and to stress the need for a greater understanding of behavioural phenotypes in genetic syndromes.

The specific focus was on the developmental trajectory of behavioural phenotypes as individuals move from childhood into adulthood.

A search of electronic databases for published material over the last twenty years was carried out, as well as scanning key text books. They looked at findings in five areas: functioning: cognition, communication, behaviour, social functioning and propensity to psychiatric illnesses.

The literature in these areas suggests that outcomes in behavioural phenotypes in adults are extremely variable, and individual predictions are difficult to make, although the authors do identify some trends, for example rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum conditions and the way these change over the developmental trajectory.

They suggest a need for further research and recommend viewing behavioural phenotypes as a continuum across the lifespan.

Recent advances in behavioural phenotypes as they affect adults, O’Brien G & Bevan R, in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 5, 4, 5-14

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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