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High levels of early emotionality (of either negative or positive valence) are hypothesized to be important precursors to early psychopathology, with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) a prime early target. The positive and negative affect domains are prime examples of Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) concepts that may enrich a multilevel mechanistic map of psychopathology risk. Utilizing both variable-centered and person-centered approaches, the current study examined whether levels and trajectories of infant negative and positive emotionality, considered either in isolation or together, predicted children's ADHD symptoms at 4 to 8 years of age. In variable-centered analyses, higher levels of infant negative affect (at as early as 3 months of age) were associated with childhood ADHD symptoms. Findings for positive affect failed to reach statistical threshold. Results from person-centered trajectory analyses suggest that additional information is gained by simultaneously considering the trajectories of positive and negative emotionality. Specifically, only when exhibiting moderate, stable or low levels of positive affect did negative affect and its trajectory relate to child ADHD symptoms. These findings add to a growing literature that suggests that infant negative emotionality is a promising early life marker of future ADHD risk and suggest secondarily that moderation by positive affectivity warrants more consideration.
Institutionally deprived young children often display distinctive patterns of attachment, classified as insecure/other (INS/OTH), with their adoptive parents. The associations between INS/OTH and developmental trajectories of mental health and neurodevelopmental symptoms were examined. Age 4 attachment status was determined for 97 Romanian adoptees exposed to up to 24 months of deprivation in Romanian orphanages and 49 nondeprived UK adoptees. Autism, inattention/overactivity and disinhibited-social-engagement symptoms, emotional problems, and IQ were measured at 4, 6, 11, and 15 years and in young adulthood. Romanian adoptees with over 6 months deprivation (Rom>6) were more often classified as INS/OTH than UK and Romanian adoptees with less than 6 months deprivation combined. INS/OTH was associated with cognitive impairment at age 4 years. The interaction between deprivation, attachment status, and age for autism spectrum disorder assessment was significant, with greater symptom persistence in Rom>6 INS/OTH(+) than other groups. This effect was reduced when IQ at age 4 was controlled for. Age 4 INS/OTH in Rom>6 was associated with worse autism spectrum disorder outcomes up to two decades later. Its association with cognitive impairment at age 4 is consistent with INS/OTH being an early marker of this negative developmental trajectory, rather than its cause.
Objectives: Individuals with moderate–severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience a transitory state of impaired consciousness and confusion often called posttraumatic confusional state (PTCS). This study examined the neuropsychological profile of PTCS. Methods: Neuropsychometric profiles of 349 individuals in the TBI Model Systems National Database were examined 4 weeks post-TBI (±2 weeks). The PTCS group was subdivided into Low (n=46) and High Performing PTCS (n=45) via median split on an orientation/amnesia measure, and compared to participants who had emerged from PTCS (n=258). Neuropsychological patterns were examined using multivariate analyses of variance and mixed model analyses of covariance. Results: All groups were globally impaired, but severity differed across groups (F(40,506)=3.44; p<.001; ŋp2 =.206). Rate of forgetting (memory consolidation) was impaired in all groups, but failed to differentiate them (F(4,684)=0.46; p=.762). In contrast, executive memory control was significantly more impaired in PTCS groups than the emerged group: Intrusion errors: F(2,343)=8.78; p<.001; ŋp2=.049; False positive recognition errors: F(2,343)=3.70; p<.05; ŋp2=.021. However, non-memory executive control and other executive memory processes did not differentiate those in versus emerged from PTCS. Conclusions: Executive memory control deficits in the context of globally impaired cognition characterize PTCS. This pattern differentiates individuals in and emerged from PTCS during the acute recovery period following TBI. (JINS, 2019, 25, 302–313)
The role that vitamin D plays in pulmonary function remains uncertain. Epidemiological studies reported mixed findings for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)–pulmonary function association. We conducted the largest cross-sectional meta-analysis of the 25(OH)D–pulmonary function association to date, based on nine European ancestry (EA) cohorts (n 22 838) and five African ancestry (AA) cohorts (n 4290) in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium. Data were analysed using linear models by cohort and ancestry. Effect modification by smoking status (current/former/never) was tested. Results were combined using fixed-effects meta-analysis. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 68 (sd 29) nmol/l for EA and 49 (sd 21) nmol/l for AA. For each 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, forced expiratory volume in the 1st second (FEV1) was higher by 1·1 ml in EA (95 % CI 0·9, 1·3; P<0·0001) and 1·8 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·5; P<0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·06), and forced vital capacity (FVC) was higher by 1·3 ml in EA (95 % CI 1·0, 1·6; P<0·0001) and 1·5 ml (95 % CI 0·8, 2·3; P=0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·56). Among EA, the 25(OH)D–FVC association was stronger in smokers: per 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, FVC was higher by 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·3) for current smokers and 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·2, 2·1) for former smokers, compared with 0·8 ml (95 % CI 0·4, 1·2) for never smokers. In summary, the 25(OH)D associations with FEV1 and FVC were positive in both ancestries. In EA, a stronger association was observed for smokers compared with never smokers, which supports the importance of vitamin D in vulnerable populations.
There is clear evidence that the mother's stress, anxiety, or depression during pregnancy can alter the development of her fetus and her child, with an increased risk for later psychopathology. We are starting to understand some of the underlying mechanisms including the role of the placenta, gene–environment interactions, epigenetics, and specific systems including the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and cytokines. In this review we also consider how these effects may be different, and potentially exacerbated, in different parts of the world. There can be many reasons for elevated prenatal stress, as in communities at war. There may be raised pregnancy-specific anxiety with high levels of maternal and infant death. There can be raised interpersonal violence (in Afghanistan 90.2% of women thought that “wife beating” was justified compared with 2.0% in Argentina). There may be interactions with nutritional deficiencies or with extremes of temperature. Prenatal stress alters the microbiome, and this can differ in different countries. Genetic differences in different ethnic groups may make some more vulnerable or more resilient to the effects of prenatal stress on child neurodevelopment. Most research on these questions has been in predominantly Caucasian samples from high-income countries. It is now time to understand more about prenatal stress and psychopathology, and the role of both social and biological differences, in the rest of the world.
In 785 mother–child (50% male) pairs from a longitudinal epidemiological birth cohort, we investigated associations between inflammation-related epigenetic polygenic risk scores (i-ePGS), environmental exposures, cognitive function, and child and adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. We examined prenatal and postnatal effects. For externalizing problems, one prenatal effect was found: i-ePGS at birth associated with higher externalizing problems (ages 7–15) indirectly through lower cognitive function (age 7). For internalizing problems, we identified two effects. For a prenatal effect, i-ePGS at birth associated with higher internalizing symptoms via continuity in i-ePGS at age 7. For a postnatal effect, higher postnatal adversity exposure (birth through age 7) associated with higher internalizing problems (ages 7–15) via higher i-ePGS (age 7). Hence, externalizing problems were related mainly to prenatal effects involving lower cognitive function, whereas internalizing problems appeared related to both prenatal and postnatal effects. The present study supports a link between i-ePGS and child and adolescent mental health.
There is now a clear focus on incorporating, and integrating, multiple levels of analysis in developmental science. The current study adds to research in this area by including markers of the immune and neuroendocrine systems in a longitudinal study of temperament in infants. Observational and parent-reported ratings of infant temperament, serum markers of the innate immune system, and cortisol reactivity from repeated salivary collections were examined in a sample of 123 infants who were assessed at 6 months and again when they were, on average, 17 months old. Blood from venipuncture was collected for analyses of nine select innate immune cytokines; salivary cortisol collected prior to and 15 min and 30 min following a physical exam including blood draw was used as an index of neuroendocrine functioning. Analyses indicated fairly minimal significant associations between biological markers and temperament at 6 months. However, by 17 months of age, we found reliable and nonoverlapping associations between observed fearful temperament and biological markers of the immune and neuroendocrine systems. The findings provide some of the earliest evidence of robust biological correlates of fear behavior with the immune system, and identify possible immune and neuroendocrine mechanisms for understanding the origins of behavioral development.
Genetic variation in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with several psychiatric conditions characterized by deficits in executive functioning (EF). A specific OXTR variant, rs2254298, has previously been associated with brain functioning in regions implicated in EF. Moreover, birth weight variation across the entire range is associated with individual differences in cortical structure and function that underlie EF. This is the first study to examine the main and interactive effect between rs2254298 and birth weight on EF in children. The sample consisted of 310 children from an ongoing longitudinal study. EF was measured at age 4.5 using observational tasks indexing working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. A family-based design that controlled for population admixture, stratification, and nongenomic confounds was employed. A significant genetic association between rs2254298 and EF was observed, with more copies of the major allele (G) associated with higher EF. There was also a significant interaction between rs2254298 and birth weight, such that more copies of the major allele in combination with higher birth weight predicted better EF. Findings suggest that OXTR may be associated with discrete neurocognitive abilities in childhood, and these effects may be modulated by intrauterine conditions related to fetal growth and development.
Research findings in psychoneuroimmunology document reliable, bidirectional linkages among psychological processes, the nervous system, and the immune system. However, available data are based almost entirely on animal and adult human studies; the application to children and adolescents is uncertain. We capitalized on the experimental leverage provided by a routine vaccination to examine the link between mood symptoms and the immune response to a vaccine challenge in early adolescence. One hundred twenty-six 11-year-olds for whom vaccine response data were available were assessed at prevaccination and 4 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months following vaccination; self-report ratings of depression and anxiety as well as measures of psychosocial and somatic risk were assessed prior to vaccine response. Analyses indicated that children's internalizing mood symptoms were associated with elevated and persistently higher antibody responses, with evidence extending to two of the four serogroups. The associations remained after controlling for multiple possible confounders (social class, body mass index, sleep, psychosocial risk, and pubertal status). The observed enhanced vaccine response associated with depressive and anxious symptoms in early adolescence may reflect an important developmental difference in immune system–brain interplay between adults and children, and it underscores the need for further developmental studies of psychoneuroimmunology.
Multiple behavioral and health outcomes, including internalizing symptoms, may be predicted from prenatal maternal anxiety, depression, or stress. However, not all children are affected, and those that are can be affected in different ways. Here we test the hypothesis that the effects of prenatal anxiety are moderated by genetic variation in the child's brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, using the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children population cohort. Internalizing symptoms were assessed from 4 to 13 years of age using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (n = 8,584); a clinical interview with the adolescents was conducted at age 15 years (n = 4,704). Obstetric and psychosocial risk and postnatal maternal symptoms were included as covariates. Results show that prenatal maternal anxiety predicted internalizing symptoms, including with the diagnostic assessment at 15 years. There was a main effect of two BDNF polymorphisms (rs6265 [val66met] and rs11030104) on internalizing symptoms up to age 13. There was also genetic moderation of the prenatal anxiety effect by different BDNF polymorphisms (rs11030121 and rs7124442), although significant effects were limited to preadolescence. The findings suggest a role for BDNF gene–environment interactions in individual vulnerability to the effects of prenatal anxiety on child internalizing symptoms.
Developmental or fetal programming has emerged as a major model for understanding the early and persisting effects of prenatal exposures on the health and development of the child and adult. We leverage the power of a 14-year prospective study to examine the persisting effects of prenatal anxiety, a key candidate in the developmental programming model, on symptoms of behavioral and emotional problems across five occasions of measurement from age 4 to 13 years. The study is based on the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children cohort, a prospective, longitudinal study of a large community sample in the west of England (n = 7,944). Potential confounders included psychosocial and obstetric risk, postnatal maternal mood, paternal pre- and postnatal mood, and parenting. Results indicated that maternal prenatal anxiety predicted persistently higher behavioral and emotional symptoms across childhood with no diminishment of effect into adolescence. Elevated prenatal anxiety (top 15%) was associated with a twofold increase in risk of a probable child mental disorder, 12.31% compared with 6.83%, after allowing for confounders. Results were similar with prenatal depression. These analyses provide some of the strongest evidence to date that prenatal maternal mood has a direct and persisting effect on her child's psychiatric symptoms and support an in utero programming hypothesis.
Some studies have found an association between elevated cortisol and
subsequent depression, but findings are inconsistent. The cortisol
awakening response may be a more stable measure of
hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal function and potentially of stress
To investigate whether salivary cortisol, particularly the cortisol
awakening response, is associated with subsequent depression in a large
Young people (aged 15 years, n = 841) from the Avon
Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) collected salivary
cortisol at four time points for 3 school days. Logistic regression was
used to calculate odds ratios for developing depression meeting ICD-10
criteria at 18 years.
We found no evidence for an association between salivary cortisol and
subsequent depression. Odds ratios for the cortisol awakening response
were 1.24 per standard deviation (95% CI 0.93–1.66, P =
0.14) before and 1.12 (95% CI 0.73–1.72, P = 0.61) after
adjustment for confounding factors. There was no evidence that the other
cortisol measures, including cortisol at each time point, diurnal drop
and area under the curve, were associated with subsequent depression.
Our findings do not support the hypothesis that elevated salivary
cortisol increases the short-term risk of subsequent depressive illness.
The results suggest that if an association does exist, it is small and
unlikely to be of clinical significance.
Children who were maltreated and enter foster care are at risk for maladjustment and relationship disturbances with foster carers. A popular hypothesis is that prior attachment relationships with abusive birth parents are internalized and carried forward to impair the child's subsequent attachment relationships. However, the empirical base for this model is limited, especially in adolescence. We examined the attachment patterns of 62 adolescents with their birth parents and their foster parents; we compared them to a comparison sample of 50 adolescents in normal-risk families. Attachment was assessed using the Child Attachment Interview; adolescent–parent interaction quality was assessed from direct observation; disruptive behavior symptoms were assessed from multiple informants. Whereas nearly all of the adolescents in foster families exhibited insecure attachments to their birth mothers (90%) and birth fathers (100%), nearly one-half were classified as having a secure attachment with their foster mother (46%) and father (49%); rates of secure attachment toward foster parents did not differ significantly from the rate in comparison families. Within the foster care sample, attachment security to the foster mother was predicted from current observed relationship quality and the duration of current placement. In addition, attachment quality in foster adolescents was associated with fewer disruptive behavior symptoms, and this association was equally strong in foster and comparison families. Our findings demonstrate that there is substantial potential for maltreated children to change and develop subsequent secure attachments in adolescence.
Experimental animal studies and adult research consistently show that stress exposure and/or psychological symptoms are associated with poorer health and immune functioning. The application to children is not yet clear, however, and we lack developmental models for studies in this area. The objective of this paper was to test the hypothesis that self-reported self-efficacy and depression, two markers of psychological well-being in children, would predict immunity and rate of illnesses. The data are based on a prospective study of 141 healthy, normally developing children aged 7–13 years who were recruited from an ambulatory pediatric setting. Children completed self-efficacy and depression measures and had blood obtained for IL-6 plasma levels and natural killer cell functional assays on three occasions, 6 months apart. Parents maintained weekly child illness diaries over 1 year using a thermometer to record fever. Parent psychiatric symptoms and income were used as covariates. Results indicated that, across the three occasions of measurement collected over the 1-year period, higher perceived self-efficacy was significantly associated with lower plasma interleukin 6 concentrations. There was no overall main effect of depressive symptoms on immune measures; however, for older girls, higher depression was associated with elevated natural killer cell cytotoxicity and an increased rate of total illnesses and febrile illnesses. The findings provide some of the first evidence that psychological processes are associated with immunity and health in a normally developing sample of preadolescents. Furthermore, the pattern of results suggests a modified model of a link between psychological well-being and immunological processes in children. These results build on and expand research on the notion of allostatic load and develop a groundwork for developmental studies in this area.
Prenatal loss, the death of a fetus/child through miscarriage or
stillbirth, is associated with significant depression and anxiety,
particularly in a subsequent pregnancy.
This study examined the degree to which symptoms of depression and
anxiety associated with a previous loss persisted following a subsequent
Data were derived from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and
Children cohort, a longitudinal cohort study in the west of England that
has followed mothers from pregnancy into the postnatal period. A total of
13 133 mothers reported on the number and conditions of previous
perinatal losses and provided self-report measures of depression and
anxiety at 18 and 32 weeks' gestation and at 8 weeks and 8, 21 and 33
months postnatally. Controls for pregnancy outcome and obstetric and
psychosocial factors were included.
Generalised estimating equations indicated that the number of previous
miscarriages/stillbirths significantly predicted symptoms of depression
(β = 0.18, s.e. = 0.07, P<0.01) and anxiety (β =
0.14, s.e. = 0.05, P<0.01) in a subsequent pregnancy,
independent of key psychosocial and obstetric factors. This association
remained constant across the pre- and postnatal period, indicating that
the impact of a previous prenatal loss did not diminish significantly
following the birth of a healthy child.
Depression and anxiety associated with a previous prenatal loss shows a
persisting pattern that continues after the birth of a subsequent
(healthy) child. Interventions targeting women with previous prenatal
loss may improve the health outcomes of women and their children.
Background: Biases in the interpretation of ambiguous material are central to cognitive models of anxiety; however, understanding of the association between interpretation and anxiety in childhood is limited. To address this, a prospective investigation of the stability and specificity of anxious cognitions and anxiety and the relationship between these factors was conducted. Method: Sixty-five children (10–11 years) from a community sample completed measures of self-reported anxiety, depression, and conduct problems, and responded to ambiguous stories at three time points over one-year. Results: Individual differences in biases in interpretation of ambiguity (specifically “anticipated distress” and “threat interpretation”) were stable over time. Furthermore, anticipated distress and threat interpretation were specifically associated with anxiety symptoms. Distress anticipation predicted change in anxiety symptoms over time. In contrast, anxiety scores predicted change in threat interpretation over time. Conclusions: The results suggest that different cognitive constructs may show different longitudinal links with anxiety. These preliminary findings extend research and theory on anxious cognitions and their link with anxiety in children, and suggest that these cognitive processes may be valuable targets for assessment and intervention.
Over-involved parenting is commonly hypothesized to be a risk factor for the development of anxiety disorders in childhood. This parenting style may result from parental attempts to prevent child distress based on expectations that the child will be unable to cope in a challenging situation. Naturalistic studies are limited in their ability to disentangle the overlapping contribution of child and parent factors in driving parental behaviours. To overcome this difficulty, an experimental study was conducted in which parental expectations of child distress were manipulated and the effects on parent behaviour and child mood were assessed. Fifty-two children (aged 7 – 11 years) and their primary caregiver participated. Parents were allocated to either a “positive” or a “negative” expectation group. Observations were made of the children and their parents interacting whilst completing a difficult anagram task. Parents given negative expectations of their child's response displayed higher levels of involvement. No differences were found on indices of child mood and behaviour and possible explanations for this are considered. The findings are consistent with suggestions that increased parental involvement may be a “natural” reaction to enhanced perceptions of child vulnerability and an attempt to avoid child distress.
The study assessed conduct and emotional difficulties in a group of Romanian adoptees at age 11, and serves as a follow-up to assessments made when the children were 6 years old. It was found that there was a significant increase in emotional difficulties, but not conduct problems, for the Romanian sample since age 6. It was also found that emotional difficulty was significantly more prevalent at age 11 in the Romanian group than in a within-UK adoptee group. Emotional difficulties in the Romanian adoptee group were found to be significantly and strongly related to previous deprivation-specific problems (disinhibited attachment, cognitive impairment, inattention/overactivity and quasi-autism); however, the presence of such early problems did not account fully for the onset of later emotional problems. Five contrasting hypotheses concerning possible mediators for later onset of emotional difficulties for the Romanian group were examined. No links were found to duration of deprivation or other deprivation-related indices, stresses/difficulties in the postadoption family environment, or educational attainment and self-esteem. There was some evidence that emotion recognition might play a role in the emergence of these problems, but other measures of social competence and theory of mind showed no associations with the onset of emotional problems.