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Understanding Development and Prevention of Chronic Physical Aggression: Towards Experimental Epigenetic Studies

Richard E. Tremblay
Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences
Vol. 363, No. 1503, The Neurobiology of Violence: Implications for Prevention and Treatment (Aug. 12, 2008), pp. 2613-2622
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20208669
Page Count: 10
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Understanding Development and Prevention of Chronic Physical Aggression: Towards Experimental Epigenetic Studies
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Abstract

The aim of this paper was to highlight how developmental psychopathology, epigenetics and prevention experiments are starting to blend together to explain the developmental causes of chronic physical aggression (CPA) and, more importantly, to help prevent CPA and its associated physical, mental and social problems. After defining the keywords (prevention, chronic and physical aggression), a selected review of published studies is used to answer the following four questions: when should we attempt to prevent onset of CPA? What are the risk factors for CPA? Have early childhood interventions been shown to prevent CPA? Can early preventive interventions benefit from epigenetic studies? The last section of this paper gives two examples of experimental prevention designs that integrate present knowledge of CPA development, risk factors, early childhood preventive interventions and epigenetic programming of brain development during pregnancy and early childhood. I conclude that randomized control trials of preventive interventions during pregnancy and early childhood with a specific focus on epigenetic effects are the research design most likely to advance our understanding of the biopsychosocial mechanisms that lead to CPA, and the only research design that can identify effective interventions for preventing the development of CPA.

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