We examined how genotype-environment correlation processes differ as a function of adolescent age. We tested whether adolescent age moderates genetic and environmental influences on positivity and negativity in mother-adolescent and father-adolescent relationships using parallel samples of twin parents from the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden and twin/sibling adolescents from the Nonshared Environment in Adolescent Development Study. We inferred differences in the role of passive and nonpassive genotype-environment correlation based on biometric moderation findings. The findings indicated that nonpassive gene-environment correlation played a stronger role for positivity in mother- and father-adolescent relationships in families with older adolescents than in families with younger adolescents, and that passive gene-environment correlation played a stronger role for positivity in the mother-adolescent relationship in families with younger adolescents than in families with older adolescents. Implications of these findings for the timing and targeting of interventions on family relationships are discussed.
Low self-worth during adolescence predicts a range of emotional and behavioural problems. As such, identifying potential sources of influence on self-worth is important. Aspects of the parent-child relationship are often associated with adolescent self-worth but to date it is unclear whether such associations may be attributable to familial confounding (e.g. genetic relatedness). We set out to clarify the nature of relationships between parental expressed affection and adolescent self-worth, and parent-child closeness and adolescent self-worth.
We used data from the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden, a children-of-twins sample comprising 909 adult twin pairs with adolescent children. Using these data we were able to apply structural equation models with which we could examine whether associations remained after accounting for genetic transmission.
Results demonstrated that parent-child closeness and parental-expressed affection were both phenotypically associated with adolescent self-worth. Associations could not be attributed to genetic relatedness between parent and child.
Parent-child closeness and parental affection are associated with adolescent self-worth above and beyond effects attributable to genetic relatedness. Data were cross-sectional, so the direction of effects cannot be confirmed but findings support the notion that positive parent-child relationships increase adolescent self-worth.
A genetically-informed, quasi-experimental design was used to examine the genetic and environmental processes underlying associations between current parental depressive symptoms and offspring perceived self-competence. Participants, drawn from a population-based Swedish sample, were 852 twin pairs and their male (52 %) and female offspring aged 15.7 ± 2.4 years. Parental depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale. Offspring perceived self-competence was measured using a modified Harter Perceived Competence Scale. Cousin comparisons and Children of Twins designs suggested that associations between maternal depressive symptoms and offspring perceived self-competence were due to shared genetic/environmental liability. The mechanism responsible for father-offspring associations, however, was independent of genetic factors and of extended family environmental factors, supporting a causal inference. Thus, mothers and fathers may impact offspring perceived self-competence via different mechanisms and unmeasured genetic and environmental selection factors must be considered when studying the intergenerational transmission of cognitive vulnerabilities for depression.
Research has documented associations between family functioning and offspring psychosocial adjustment, but questions remain regarding whether these associations are partly due to confounding genetic factors and other environmental factors. The current study used a genetically informed approach, the Children of Twins design, to explore the associations between family functioning (family conflict, marital quality, and agreement about parenting) and offspring psychopathology. Participants were 867 twin pairs (388 monozygotic; 479 dizygotic) from the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden, their spouses, and children (51.7% female; M = 15.75 years). The results suggested associations between exposure to family conflict (assessed by the mother, father, and child) and child adjustment were independent of genetic factors and other environmental factors. However, when family conflict was assessed using only children's reports, the results indicated that genetic factors also influenced these associations. In addition, the analyses indicated that exposure to low marital quality and agreement about parenting was associated with children's internalizing and externalizing problems and that genetic factors also contributed to the associations of marital quality and agreement about parenting with offspring externalizing problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved).
This study examined genetic and environmental influences on global family conflict. The sample comprised 872 same-sex pairs of twin parents, their spouses/partners, and one adolescent child per twin from the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden. The twins, spouses, and child each reported on the degree of family conflict, and there was significant agreement among the family members' ratings. These shared perspectives were explained by one common factor, indexing global family conflict. Genetic influences explained 36% of the variance in this common factor, suggesting that twins' heritable characteristics contribute to family conflict, via genotype-environment correlation. Nonshared environmental effects explained the remaining 64% of this variance, indicating that twins' unique childhood and/or current family experiences also play an important role.
The transmission of anxiety within families is well recognized, but the underlying processes are poorly understood. Twin studies of adolescent anxiety demonstrate both genetic and environmental influence, and multiple aspects of parenting are associated with offspring anxiety. To date, the children-of-twins design has not been used to evaluate the relative contributions of genetic transmission compared with direct transmission of anxiety from parents to their offspring.
Anxiety and neuroticism measures were completed by 385 monozygotic and 486 dizygotic same-sex twin families (37% male twin pair families) from the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden. Structural equation models tested for the presence of both genetic and environmental transmission from one generation to the next.
For both anxiety and neuroticism, the models provide support for significant direct environmental transmission from parents to their adolescent offspring. In contrast, there was no evidence of significant genetic transmission.
The association between parental and offspring anxiety largely arises because of a direct association between parents and their children independent of genetic confounds. The lack of genetic transmission may reflect there being different genetic effects on these traits in adolescence and adulthood. Direct environmental transmission is in line with developmental theories of anxiety suggesting that children and adolescents learn anxious behaviors from their parents through a number of pathways such as modeling. Future analyses should combine children-of-twins data with child twin data in order to examine whether this direct effect solely represents parental influences on the offspring or whether it also includes child/adolescent anxiety evoking parental anxiety.
Comment In: Am J Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;172(7):597-826130196
Previous studies indicate that maternal anxiety is associated with asthma in the adolescent child, but mechanisms are unclear.
To investigate the association between maternal anxiety and maternal, self- and register-based report of asthma in the adolescent child, and whether the association remains after control of familial confounding (shared environmental and genetic factors).
From the Twin and Offspring Study of Sweden, 1691 mothers (1058 twins) and their adolescent child were included. The association between maternal self-reported anxiety (Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP) somatic or psychic anxiety) and asthma based on subjective (maternal or child report) or objective (register-based diagnosis and medication) measures were analysed using logistic regression. The children-of-twins design was used to explore whether genes or environment contribute to the association.
Maternal BAI anxiety (OR 2.02, CI 1.15-3.55) was significantly associated with adolescent asthma reported by the mother. Maternal KSP somatic anxiety (OR 1.74, CI 1.04-2.91) and psychic anxiety (OR 1.74, CI 1.05-2.86) was significantly associated with breathlessness reported by the adolescent child. In contrast, maternal anxiety was not associated with increased risk for the register-based outcomes of asthma diagnosis or medication. The results remained also after adjusting for covariates and the children-of-twins analyses which indicate that the association was due to familial confounding.
We found some associations between maternal anxiety and subjectively reported offspring asthma or breathlessness which may be due to familial effects. A likely candidate for explaining this familial confounding is heritable personality traits associated with both anxiety and subjective measures of asthma.
There is evidence both that parental monitoring is an environmental influence serving to diminish adolescent externalizing problems and that this association may be driven by adolescents' characteristics via genetic and/or environmental mechanisms, such that adolescents with fewer problems tell their parents more, and therefore appear to be better monitored. Without information on how parents' and children's genes and environments influence correlated parent and child behaviors, it is impossible to clarify the mechanisms underlying this association.
The present study used the Extended Children of Twins model to distinguish types of gene-environment correlation and direct environmental effects underlying associations between parental knowledge and adolescent (age 11-22 years) externalizing behavior with a Swedish sample of 909 twin parents and their adolescent offspring and a US-based sample of 405 White adolescent siblings and their parents.
Results suggest that more parental knowledge is associated with less adolescent externalizing via a direct environmental influence independent of any genetic influences. There was no evidence of a child-driven explanation of the association between parental knowledge and adolescent externalizing problems.
In this sample of adolescents, parental knowledge exerted an environmental influence on adolescent externalizing after accounting for genetic influences of parents and adolescents. Because the association between parenting and child development originates in the parent, treatment for adolescent externalizing must not only include parents but should also focus on altering their parental style. Thus, findings suggest that teaching parents better knowledge-related monitoring strategies is likely to help reduce externalizing problems in adolescents.
This study investigated whether genetic and environmental influences on global family conflict are explained by parents' personality, marital quality, and negative parenting. The sample comprised 876 same-sex pairs of twins, their spouses, and one adolescent child per twin from the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden. Genetic influences on aggressive personality were correlated with genetic influences on global family conflict. Nonshared environmental influences on marital quality and negative parenting were correlated with nonshared environmental influences on global family conflict. Results suggest that parents' personality and unique experiences within their family relationships are important for understanding genetic and environmental influences on global conflict in the home.
In specific vole and primate species the neuropeptide oxytocin plays a central role in the regulation of pair-bonding behavior. Here we investigate the extent to which genetic variants in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) are associated with pair-bonding and related social behaviors in humans.
We first genotyped twelve single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TOSS (Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden) (n = 2309) and the TCHAD (Swedish Twin Study of Child and Adolescent Development) (n = 1240), comprising measures of self-reported pair-bonding behavior. In the TOSS sample we further investigated one of the SNPs for measures of marital status and quality. Moreover, in the TCHAD sample we explored the longitudinal relationship between precursors of pair-bonding during childhood and subsequent behavior in romantic relationships. Finally, in the TCHAD study and in the Child and Adolescent Twin Study of Sweden (CATSS) (n = 1771), the association between the same SNP and childhood behaviors was investigated.
One SNP (rs7632287) in OXTR was associated with traits reflecting pair-bonding in women in the TOSS and TCHAD samples. In girls the rs7632287 SNP was further associated with childhood social problems, which longitudinally predicted pair-bonding behavior in the TCHAD sample. This association was replicated in the CATSS sample in which an association between the same SNP and social interaction deficit symptoms from the autism spectrum was detected.
These results suggest an association between variation in OXTR and human pair-bonding and other social behaviors, possibly indicating that the well-described influence of oxytocin on affiliative behavior in voles could also be of importance for humans.
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