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Phenotypic and genetic differentiation of anxiety-related behaviors in middle childhood

Hallett, V. and Ronald, Angelica and Rijsdijk, F. and Eley, T.C. (2009) Phenotypic and genetic differentiation of anxiety-related behaviors in middle childhood. Depression and Anxiety 26 (4), pp. 316-324. ISSN 1091-4269.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/da.20539

Abstract

Background: Anxiety-related behaviors (ARBs) are commonly observed during typical development, yet few studies have investigated their etiology in middle childhood. This study aimed to examine both the phenotypic and genetic differentiation of ARB subtypes within the general population at age 7 and 9. It constituted a follow-up to an earlier study of ARBs in preschool children. Methods: We investigated the phenotypic structure of ARBs in a large population-based twin sample, comprising 7,834 twin pairs at age 7 and 3,644 twin pairs at age 9. Quantitative genetic modeling techniques were then used to determine the relative influences of genetic and environmental factors upon different types of ARB and upon the covariation between them. Results: Factor analysis supported the presence of five ARB factors at both ages: negative cognitions, negative affect, fear, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and social anxiety. Multivariate genetic analyses revealed significant genetic effects and a small but significant influence of shared environment for all ARB subtypes. There was a moderate level of genetic specificity for each subtype as well as some shared genetic effects. Shared environmental influences correlated highly across all types of ARB, whereas nonshared environmental effects were largely subtype specific. Conclusions: The current results suggest that ARBs can be differentiated both phenotypically and genetically within middle childhood, with subtypes reflecting symptom groupings of diagnosable disorders but also aspects of temperament. Although some etiological risk factors lead to a generalized vulnerability to anxiety, others may serve to differentiate between different types of ARBs.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): anxiety, anxiety disorders, child, twin, genetics, environment
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2010 14:06
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:19
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/2553

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