Minor physical anomalies in adolescents at risk for substance use and early sex

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Minor physical anomalies (MPAs) are associated with disruptions of fetal development. We propose that the same genetic compositions that contribute to the presence of MPAs, also predispose individuals to health-compromising behaviors, thus considering MPAs as particular endophenotypes. We developed a screening questionnaire for problematic conduct, substance abuse, and early sexual practice. A total of 108 adolescents (55 males, 50.9%) aged 11 to 19 years were recruited and further divided into case and control groups according to their answers to the questions of health behaviors mentioned above. We then measured their MPAs that included qualitative and quantitative physical features. Stepwise logistic regression and the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses were used to determine the predictive values of MPAs for behavioral outcomes. The obliquity of palpebral fissure and the head MPAs were negatively associated with substance use. In the ROC analysis, the model provided an area under curve (AUC) of 0.91 with prediction indices being 0.89 for sensitivity and 0.85 for specificity. In addition, the feet MPAs and outer canthal distance were positively, whereas the obliquity of palpebral fissure and ear rotation was negatively associated with early sexual practices. The AUC for early sexual practice was 0.91 and the prediction indexes were 0.87 for sensitivity and 0.88 for specificity. Certain MPAs were associated with adolescent substance use and early sex, which suggests a neurodevelopmental etiology for behavioral outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere11147
JournalMedicine (United States)
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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