New genetic scoring technique can predict reading ability through DNA

 ISLAMABAD: Scientists have developed a new genetic scoring technique which can predict reading ability of kids throughout school years from their DNA alone.

Researchers said that the scores can be used to identify and tackle reading difficulties early, rather than waiting until children develop these problems at school.

The findings found that a genetic score comprising around 20,000 of DNA variants explains five per cent of the differences between children’s reading performance.

Students with the highest and lowest genetic scores differed by a whole two years in their reading performance, Medical Xpress reported.

The study from King’s College London in the UK highlight the potential of using genetic scores to predict strengths and weaknesses in children’s learning abilities.

The researchers calculated genetic scores (also called polygenic scores) for educational achievement in 5,825 individuals from twins study based on genetic variants identified to be important for educational attainment. They then mapped these scores against reading ability between the ages of seven and 14.

Genetic scores were found to explain up to five per cent of the differences between children in their reading ability.

This association remained significant even after accounting for cognitive ability and family socio-economic status.

The study authors note that although five per cent may seem a relatively small amount, this is substantial compared to other results related to reading.

Saskia Selzam, from King’s College London said,”The value of polygenic scores is that they make it possible to predict genetic risk and resilience at the level of the individual”.

She added, “These scores could enable research on resilience to developing reading difficulties and how children respond individually to different interventions,”—APP