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Grumpy baby? Blame it on the genes

A new study shows that  physical aggression in toddlers is more likely a result of genes rather than the upbringing.

Tantrum throwing toddlers who kick and bite cannot be blamed on poor upbringing.

A new study shows that  physical aggression in toddlers is more a result of genes rather than environmental factors.

A new study carried out by the University of Montreal and CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal, Canada, also gives credence to the term "terrible twos" with findings that indicate that aggression peaks from the age of two.

The study published in the journal, Psychological Medicine, indicates that genes account for half the reason behind childhood aggression.

The findings were based on 667 pairs of twins, both identical and non-identical, with the parents being asked to rate their children's physical aggression, such as hitting, biting, kicking and fighting.

The behaviour was reported at the ages of 20, 32 and 50 months and compared along with the environment and genetics of the pairs of twins. 

"Genetic factors always explained a substantial part of individual differences in physical aggression" said Associate Professor Eric Lacourse of the University of Montreal's Department of Sociology.

However, he also points out, "genetic associations do not imply that the early trajectories of physical aggression are set and unchangeable ... Genetic factors can always interact with other factors from the environment." 

This is especially since the frequency and rate of change of physical aggression was found to be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors.

In other words, the ill-tempered child could be taught to be nice, and eventually grow up to be a reasonable  adult.

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