COMT and prenatal maternal smoking in associations with conduct problems and crime: the Pelotas 1993 birth cohort study.


Conduct problems in childhood and adolescence are significant precursors of crime and violence in young adulthood. The purpose of the current study is to test the interaction between prenatal maternal smoking and COMT Val(158)Met in conduct problems and crime in the 1993 Pelotas Birth Cohort Study. Conduct problems were assessed through the parent version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire at ages 11 and 15 years. A translated version of a confidential self-report questionnaire was used to collect criminal data at 18 years of age. Negative binomial regression analyses showed an association between prenatal maternal smoking and SDQ conduct problem scores (IRR = 1.24; 95% CI: 1.14-1.34; p < 0.001) at 11 years of age. However, no evidence was found for an association between COMT genotypes and conduct scores or for an interaction between maternal smoking and this gene in predicting conduct problems. Very similar results were obtained using the 15 years conduct scores and crime measure at age 18. Prenatal maternal smoking was associated with crime (IRR = 1.28; 95% CI: 1.09-1.48; p = 0.002) but neither COMT genotypes nor the possible interaction between gene and maternal smoking were significantly associated with crime. Replications of GxE findings across different social contexts are critical for testing the robustness of findings.