Head circumference is associated with intelligence and tracks from childhood into adulthood.
We performed a genome-wide association study meta-analysis and follow-up of head circumference in a total of 29,192 participants between 6 and 30 months of age.
Seven loci reached genome-wide significance in the combined discovery and replication analysis of which three loci near ARFGEF2, MYCL1, and TOP1, were novel. We observed positive genetic correlations for early-life head circumference with adult intracranial volume, years of schooling, childhood and adult intelligence, but not with adult psychiatric, neurological, or personality-related phenotypes.
The results of this study indicate that the biological processes underlying early-life head circumference overlap largely with those of adult head circumference. The associations of early-life head circumference with cognitive outcomes across the life course are partly explained by genetics.