Genetic architecture of feeling loved in childhood: GWAS and genetic correlations in UK Biobank and ALSPAC
Research has shown that adults who look back on their childhood and say that they had a positive relationship with their parents, or felt loved by their parents, have better mental health. Indeed, these emotional memories can be more important for mental health than memories of specific behaviours that parents engaged in. However, we don't know how the relationship between feeling loved in childhood and mental health actually comes about.
In this study, we will firstly look at how genetics relates to people saying they felt loved in childhood. People who took part in a large research study answered a question about whether they felt loved in childhood and provided a blood sample, so that we can look at their genetics. Genetic material (DNA) is made up of millions of tiny units called base pairs. At each base pair, a person can have one of two alleles. We will look at whether the allele that a person has at each base pair increases or decreases their likelihood of reporting that they felt loved in childhood. We will then look at whether there are similarities in how genetics contributes to feeling loved in childhood and depression, anxiety, and wellbeing.
This will help us to understand some of the reasons people are more or less likely to say they felt loved in childhood. It can also provide a better understanding of how feeling loved in childhood relates to mental health. All of this is important for how we understand the causes of mental health problems.