The prenatal programing of gender differences in psychopathology – Using a multi-site international collaboration to solve replication issues in developmental psychopathology

7 November 2017, 9.15 AM - 7 November 2017, 10.15 AM

Dr Ashley Wazana

Room G12, Canynge Hall

Dr. Ashley Wazana, is an Associate Professor at McGill University and a clinician-scientist at the Jewish General Hospital (JGH). He is currently co-director of a day hospital for Early Childhood Disorders, having also worked as a director of inpatient services and as a regular consultant in the underserved rural communities of Quebec. As a faculty of the McGill Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, he is involved in implementing a positive health family intervention aiming to prevent suicide and other significant mental health morbidities in two Aboriginal communities near Val d’Or. Dr. Wazana has a double Masters of Science (McGill, MSc in Psychiatry, and Columbia, MSc in Epidemiology). He has held an FRSQ Clinician Scientist research award and is currently the chair of the CACAP Research and Scientific Program committee since 2014. His research activities focus on identifying how early maternal care moderates developmental risk characterized by prenatal adversity and genetic susceptibility to predict early age psychopathology. He examines these hypothesis in Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) project, and in an international collaboration of four comparable cohorts, the project in Developmental Research in Environmental Adversity, Mental health, BIological susceptibility and Gender (DREAM BIG) .
Synopsis: The precocious and chronic course of depression makes it the disease with the leading cause of disability, an effect marked by a 2-fold difference in the rate for girls and women as of early adolescence. The pace of reduction in the prevalence of anxious and depressive disorders has failed to keep up with those of other chronic disorders. Arguably what is missing is not a list of risk factors, but rather a precise knowledge of how factors interact to predict those at higher risk. Findings associating prenatal experience and psychopathology provide interesting directions. Differences by gender in the response to stress are well document in early emotional development but evidence is needed in older children and adults. Genetic differences in susceptibility to prenatal events are also important. Finally, the early environment as seen in early maternal care might be a significant positive or negative influence on the effect of prenatal, gender and genetic risk. For cost-effective interventions to exploit the higher neuroplasticity in children, such a complex developmental approach is needed to identify those at risk. This is more poignant given the availability effective individual and family interventions. We will examine these important questions by means of a collaboration of 4 prolific international longitudinal cohorts, in Canada (Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment), the United Kingdom (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children), the Netherlands (Generation-Rotterdam) and Singapore (Growing Up in Singapore Towards Health Outcomes). With samples of 590-15,290 subjects with comparable data on prenatal exposure, genotype, early mother-child interactions and temperament as well as anxious and depressive psychopathology, we present findings of a complex model of prediction of anxious and depressive psychopathology in early elementary age children into early adolescence which would support efforts for prevention and early identification and intervention of this chronic disorder.

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