The prevalence of aggression in genetic syndromes: A review

Laurie Powis, Chris Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Research into behavioural phenotypes identifies both environmental and organic factors as influencing aggression in children and adults with genetic disorders associated with intellectual disability. However, in contrast to self-injury there is a paucity of research that compares aggression across relevant syndromes. The primary aim of this review is to examine the association between aggression and genetic syndromes by analysis of prevalence studies. The review also examines the literature on the form of the behaviour and influence of environmental factors. Results imply that certain syndrome groups (Cri du Chat, Smith-Magenis, Prader-Willi, Angelman, Cornelia de Lange, and Fragile X syndromes; estimates over 70%) evidence a stronger association with aggression than others (e.g. Williams and Down syndromes; estimates below 15%). However, the strength of association is difficult to quantify due to methodological differences between studies. The results from examining form and environmental influences highlight the importance of phenotype-environment interactions. Research employing group comparison designs is warranted and future work on the assessment and intervention of aggression in genetic syndromes should consider the importance of phenotype-environment interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1051-1071
Number of pages21
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number5
Early online date1 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Aggression
  • Angelman Syndrome
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Cri-du-Chat Syndrome
  • De Lange Syndrome
  • Down Syndrome
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Smith-Magenis Syndrome
  • Williams Syndrome


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