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Missouri Mothers and Their Children: A Family Study of the Effects of Genetics and the Prenatal Environment

  • Valerie S. Knopik (a1) (a2), Andrew C. Heath (a3), Kristine Marceau (a1) (a4), Rohan H. C. Palmer (a1), John E. McGeary (a1) (a5), Alexandre Todorov (a6) and Allison Schettini Evans (a2) (a7)...

Abstract

The Missouri Mothers and Their Children Study (MO-MATCH) was specifically designed to critically investigate prenatal environmental influences on child attention problems and associated learning and cognitive deficits. The project began as a pilot study in 2004 and was formally launched in 2008. Participants in the study were initially identified via the Department of Vital Statistics birth record (BR) database. Interview and lab-based data were obtained from: (1) mothers of Missouri-born children (born 1998–2005), who smoked during one pregnancy but not during another pregnancy; (2) biological fathers when available; and (3) the children (i.e., full sibling pairs discordant for exposure to maternal smoking during pregnancy (SDP). This within-mother, between-pregnancy contrast provides the best possible methodological control for many stable maternal and familial confounding factors (e.g., heritable and socio-demographic characteristics of the mother that predict increased probability of SDP). It also controls for differences between mothers who do and do not smoke during pregnancy, and their partners, that might otherwise artifactually create, or alternatively mask, associations between SDP and child outcomes. Such a design will therefore provide opportunities to determine less biased effect sizes while also allowing us to investigate (on a preliminary basis) the possible contribution of paternal or other second-hand smoke exposure during the pre, peri, and postnatal periods to offspring outcome. This protocol has developed a cohort that can be followed longitudinally through periods typically associated with increased externalizing symptoms and substance used initiation.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Valerie Knopik, Division of Behavioral Genetics, Coro West Suite 204, 1 Hoppin St, Providence, RI 02903, USA. E-mail: valerie_knopik@brown.edu

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