Genes pin-pointed as cause of learning disabilities

Scientists have pin-pointed several dozen genes potentially linked to learning disabilities, narrowing the range down from a list of thousands.

A study conducted by researchers at Oxford University and Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands was the first comprehensive effort to identify the genes link to learning disabilities.

Professor Chris Ponting, of Oxford University, said: “This could be a first step towards offering people the option of having a genetic diagnostic test for learning difficulties, should they want it.”He added that knowing whether a child inherited their learning difficulties via a specific gene or if it had arisen spontaneously may help parents make decision about having more children.

The professor warned that “proper genetic counselling” would need to be administered before such tests were performed. In total, 78 genes have been linked to learning disabilities and scientists unearthed evidence that these conditions are a result of disorders in the brain and nervous system.

Earlier this year, the Foundation for Learning Disabilities said that fathers of children with this type of condition are often under-supported by social services in their pursuit to be more involved in their offspring’s development.