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Negative emotionality (NE) was evaluated as a candidate mechanism linking prenatal maternal affective symptoms and offspring internalizing problems during the preschool/early school age period. The participants were 335 mother–infant dyads from the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment project. A Confirmatory Bifactor Analysis (CFA) based on self-report measures of prenatal depression and pregnancy-specific anxiety generated a general factor representing overlapping symptoms of prenatal maternal psychopathology and four distinct symptom factors representing pregnancy-specific anxiety, negative affect, anhedonia and somatization. NE was rated by the mother at 18 and 36 months. CFA based on measures of father, mother, child-rated measures and a semistructured interview generated a general internalizing factor representing overlapping symptoms of child internalizing psychopathology accounting for the unique contribution of each informant. Path analyses revealed significant relationships among the general maternal affective psychopathology, the pregnancy- specific anxiety, and the child internalizing factors. Child NE mediated only the relationship between pregnancy-specific anxiety and the child internalizing factors. We highlighted the conditions in which prenatal maternal affective symptoms predicts child internalizing problems emerging early in development, including consideration of different mechanistic pathways for different maternal prenatal symptom presentations and child temperament.
Prenatal adversity shapes child neurodevelopment and risk for later mental health problems. The quality of the early care environment can buffer some of the negative effects of prenatal adversity on child development. Retrospective studies, in adult samples, highlight epigenetic modifications as sentinel markers of the quality of the early care environment; however, comparable data from pediatric cohorts are lacking. Participants were drawn from the Maternal Adversity Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) study, a longitudinal cohort with measures of infant attachment, infant development, and child mental health. Children provided buccal epithelial samples (mean age = 6.99, SD = 1.33 years, n = 226), which were used for analyses of genome-wide DNA methylation and genetic variation. We used a series of linear models to describe the association between infant attachment and (a) measures of child outcome and (b) DNA methylation across the genome. Paired genetic data was used to determine the genetic contribution to DNA methylation at attachment-associated sites. Infant attachment style was associated with infant cognitive development (Mental Development Index) and behavior (Behavior Rating Scale) assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 36 months. Infant attachment style moderated the effects of prenatal adversity on Behavior Rating Scale scores at 36 months. Infant attachment was also significantly associated with a principal component that accounted for 11.9% of the variation in genome-wide DNA methylation. These effects were most apparent when comparing children with a secure versus a disorganized attachment style and most pronounced in females. The availability of paired genetic data revealed that DNA methylation at approximately half of all infant attachment-associated sites was best explained by considering both infant attachment and child genetic variation. This study provides further evidence that infant attachment can buffer some of the negative effects of early adversity on measures of infant behavior. We also highlight the interplay between infant attachment and child genotype in shaping variation in DNA methylation. Such findings provide preliminary evidence for a molecular signature of infant attachment and may help inform attachment-focused early intervention programs.
Evidence suggests that both high and low birth weight children have increased the risk for obesity and the metabolic syndrome in adulthood. Previously we have found altered feeding behaviour and food preferences in pre-school children and adults born with low birth weight. In this study, we investigated if birth weight was associated with different intake of fat, carbohydrate and/or protein at 6–12 years of age. This is a cross-sectional study where 255 guardians answered online and telephone questions including anthropometrics and demographic data, parental family food rules (food control, encouragement and restriction) and a complete web-based FFQ for their children (130 boys and 125 girls). Baseline demographic and parental food rules characteristics did not differ accordingly to sex. Linear regression models were conducted separately for each sex, adjusted for income, age and maternal age. There were no differences in total energy intake, but energy density (ED, energy content/g) was negatively associated with birth weight in boys. Macronutrient analysis showed that ED intake was from a greater intake of fat. Birth weight was not a significant predictor of protein and carbohydrate intake in boys. In girls, we saw a positive correlation between fat intake and cholesterol intake v. birth weight, but no association with ED intake (results did not remain after adjustment). The study shows that low birth weight is associated with altered fat intake in childhood in a sex-specific manner. It is likely that biological factors such as fetal programming of homoeostatic and/or hedonic pathways influencing food preferences are involved in this process.
Although infants less than 18 months old are capable of engaging in self-regulatory behavior (e.g., avoidance, withdrawal, and orienting to other aspects of their environment), the use of self-regulatory strategies at this age (as opposed to relying on caregivers) is associated with elevated behavioral and physiological distress. This study investigated infant dopamine-related genotypes (dopamine receptor D2 [DRD2], dopamine transporter solute carrier family C6, member 4 [SLC6A3], and catechol-O-methyltransferase [COMT]) as they interact with maternal self-reported history of maltreatment to predict observed infant independent emotion regulation behavior. A community sample (N = 193) of mother–infant dyads participated in a toy frustration challenge at infant age 15 months, and infant emotion regulation behavior was coded. Buccal cells were collected for genotyping. Maternal maltreatment history significantly interacted with infant SLC6A3 and COMT genotypes, such that infants with more 10-repeat and valine alleles of SLC6A3 and COMT, respectively, relative to infants with fewer or no 10-repeat and valine alleles, utilized more independent (i.e., maladaptive) regulatory behavior if mother reported a more extensive maltreatment history, as opposed to less. The findings indicate that child genetic factors moderate the intergenerational impact of maternal maltreatment history. The results are discussed in terms of potential mechanism of Gene × Environment interaction.
Prenatal maternal depression and a multilocus genetic profile of two susceptibility genes implicated in the stress response were examined in an interaction model predicting negative emotionality in the first 3 years. In 179 mother–infant dyads from the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability, and Neurodevelopment cohort, prenatal depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depressions Scale) was assessed at 24 to 36 weeks. The multilocus genetic profile score consisted of the number of susceptibility alleles from the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region gene (5-HTTLPR): no long-rs25531(A) (LA: short/short, short/long-rs25531(G) [LG], or LG/LG] vs. any LA) and the dopamine receptor D4 gene (six to eight repeats vs. two to five repeats). Negative emotionality was extracted from the Infant Behaviour Questionnaire—Revised at 3 and 6 months and the Early Child Behavior Questionnaire at 18 and 36 months. Mixed and confirmatory regression analyses indicated that prenatal depression and the multilocus genetic profile interacted to predict negative emotionality from 3 to 36 months. The results were characterized by a differential susceptibility model at 3 and 6 months and by a diathesis–stress model at 36 months.
Disorganized attachment is an important early risk factor for socioemotional problems throughout childhood and into adulthood. Prevailing models of the etiology of disorganized attachment emphasize the role of highly dysfunctional parenting, to the exclusion of complex models examining the interplay of child and parental factors. Decades of research have established that extreme child birth weight may have long-term effects on developmental processes. These effects are typically negative, but this is not always the case. Recent studies have also identified the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) as a moderator of childrearing effects on the development of disorganized attachment. However, there are inconsistent findings concerning which variant of the polymorphism (seven-repeat long-form allele or non–seven-repeat short-form allele) is most likely to interact with caregiving in predicting disorganized versus organized attachment. In this study, we examined possible two- and three-way interactions and child DRD4 polymorphisms and birth weight and maternal caregiving at age 6 months in longitudinally predicting attachment disorganization at 36 months. Our sample is from the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability and Neurodevelopment project, a sample of 650 mother–child dyads. Birth weight was cross-referenced with normative data to calculate birth weight percentile. Infant DRD4 was obtained with buccal swabs and categorized according to the presence of the putative allele seven repeat. Macroanalytic and microanalytic measures of maternal behavior were extracted from a videotaped session of 20 min of nonfeeding interaction followed by a 10-min divided attention maternal task at 6 months. Attachment was assessed at 36 months using the Strange Situation procedure, and categorized into disorganized attachment and others. The results indicated that a main effect for DRD4 and a two-way interaction of birth weight and 6-month maternal attention (frequency of maternal looking away behavior) and sensitivity predicted disorganized attachment in robust logistic regression models adjusted for social demographic covariates. Specifically, children in the midrange of birth weight were more likely to develop a disorganized attachment when exposed to less attentive maternal care. However, the association reversed with extreme birth weight (low and high). The DRD4 seven-repeat allele was associated with less disorganized attachment (protective), while non–seven-repeat children were more likely to be classified as disorganized attachment. The implications for understanding inconsistencies in the literature about which DRD4 genotype is the risk direction are also considered. Suggestions for intervention with families with infants at different levels of biological risk and caregiving risk are also discussed.
This study examines the practical application of a system for the derivation of member utility functions for the purpose of recommending investment-channel choice to members of a defined-contribution retirement fund. The utility functions of post-retirement benefits from members of a defined-contribution fund are elicited. The risk aversion of each member is measured and the results are compared with a standard risk-tolerance assessment method.
Background. Although a host of studies have now examined the relationship between quality of life (QoL) and non-seasonal depression, few have measured QoL in seasonal affective disorder (SAD). We report here on results from the Can-SAD trial, which assessed the impact of treatment with either antidepressant medication or light therapy upon QoL in patients diagnosed with SAD.
Method. This Canadian double-blind, multicentre, randomized controlled trial included 96 patients who met strict diagnostic criteria for SAD. Eligible patients were randomized to 8 weeks of treatment with either: (1) 10000 lux light treatment and a placebo capsule or (2) 100 lux light treatment (placebo light) and 20 mg fluoxetine. QoL was measured with the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (Q-LES-Q) and the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Short-Form General Health Survey (SF-20) at baseline and 8 weeks.
Results. Both intervention groups showed significant improvement in QoL over time with no significant differences being detected by treatment condition. Q-LES-Q scores increased significantly in seven of eight domains, with the average scores rising from 48·0 (S.D.=10·7) at baseline to 69·1 (S.D.=15·6) at week 8. Treatment-related improvement in QoL was strongly associated with improvement in depression symptoms.
Discussion. Patients with SAD report markedly impaired QoL during the winter months. Treatment with light therapy or antidepressant medication is associated with equivalent marked improvement in perceived QoL. Studies of treatment interventions for SAD should routinely include broader indices of patient outcome, such as the assessment of psychosocial functioning or life quality.
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