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Longitudinal Genetic Analysis of Internalizing and Externalizing Problem Behavior in Adopted Biologically Related and Unrelated Sibling Pairs

  • Anja C. Huizink (a1), Mijke P. van den Berg (a2), Jan van der Ende (a3) and Frank C. Verhulst (a4)

Abstract

To obtain a better understanding of how genetic and environmental processes are involved in the stability and change in problem behavior from early adolescence into adulthood, studies with genetically informative samples are important. The present study used parent-reported data on internalizing and externalizing problem behavior of adoptees at mean ages 12.4, 15.5 and 26.3. In this adoption study adopted biologically related sibling pairs shared on average 50% of their genes and were brought up in the same family environment, whereas adopted biologically unrelated sibling pairs only shared their family environment. The resemblance between these adopted biologically related (N = 106) and unrelated sibling pairs (N = 230) was compared and examined over time. We aimed to investigate (1) to what extent are internalizing and externalizing problem behavior stable from early adolescence into adulthood, and (2) whether the same or different genetic and environmental factors affect these problem behaviors at the 3 assessments. Our results show that both internalizing (rs ranging from .34 to .58) and externalizing behavior (rs ranging from .47 to .69) were rather stable over time. For internalizing and externalizing problem behavior it was found that both genetic and shared environmental influences could be modeled by an underlying common factor, which explained variance in problem behavior from early adolescence into adulthood and accounted for stability over time. The nonshared environmental influences were best modeled by a Cholesky decomposition for internalizing behavior, whereas a time-specific influence of the nonshared environment was included in the final model of externalizing behavior.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Anja C. Huizink, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam/Sophia Children's Hospital, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, PO Box 2060, 3000 CB Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

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