Previous studies indicate that the emotional quality of marital relationships is mirrored in parent-child relationships. We explored the degree to which these associations are explained by genetic and environmental factors. Participants were drawn from the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden (TOSS), and included 544 female twin pairs (258 monozygotic [MZ], 286 dizygotic [DZ]), and 311 male twin pairs (128 MZ, 183 DZ). The spouses and one adolescent child of each twin also participated in this study. The twins completed self-report measures that assessed their marital quality and their warmth and negativity towards their children. Observational ratings of marital warmth and negativity, and of maternal warmth and negativity were obtained for a subset of female twin pairs (150 MZ, 176 DZ). Self-reported marital satisfaction was associated with self-reported parental warmth and negativity for mothers (rs = .25, -.36) and fathers (rs = .25, -.44). For the observational measures, marital warmth was associated with maternal warmth (r = .42), while marital negativity was associated with maternal negativity (r = .34). On average genetic factors explained nearly half of the covariance between self-reported marital satisfaction and parenting for mothers (48%) and fathers (47%). Genetic factors explained 21% of the covariance between observed marital and maternal warmth, but did not contribute to associations between marital and maternal negativity. These findings indicate that parents' genetically influenced characteristics help shape the emotional climate of the family.
The present study addresses the issue of differential heritability with increasing severity of parent-reported internalizing and externalizing behavior problems assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist. The sample includes 526 identical and 389 fraternal same-sexed twin pairs from five national birth cohorts, aged 5-6, 8-9, and 12-15 years. Heritability (h2), common environment (c2), and changes in these parameters as a function of proband score were analyzed by multiple regression models (Cherny et al., 1992). Internalizing and externalizing behavior showed significant heritability. A small increment in h2 and a reduction of c2 with increasing severity of externalizing behavior were independent of sex and age. For internalizing behavior h2 increased and c2 declined with increasing severity for the 5-6 and 8-9 year olds. Logarithmic transformation of scores lowered h2 and increased c2, particularly for externalizing behavior. The changes in heritability with severity were nonsignificant for the transformed variables.
In contrast to many phenotypes that have been studied using twin designs, substance use shows considerable evidence of environmental influence. Accordingly, specifying the relevant environments and understanding the nature of their effects is an important research priority. Twin studies also have demonstrated that the importance of genetic and environmental influences varies across development for a variety of behavioral outcomes, including substance use. Here, we report analyses exploring moderating effects associated with parenting and peer characteristics on adolescent smoking and drinking, measured at ages 14 and 17. We find significant evidence of moderating effects associated with two dimensions of parenting (parental monitoring and time spent in activities with parents) on adolescent smoking, measured at two time points across development, but no moderating effects on adolescent drinking. Genetic influences on smoking increased, and common environmental effects decreased, as adolescents reported less parental monitoring and spending more time with their parents. Conversely, we find evidence that adolescent drinking is more strongly influenced by peer characteristics. The importance of genetic predispositions was increased among adolescents who reported more friends who used alcohol. These analyses illustrate the importance of incorporating measured aspects of the environment into genetically informative twin models to begin to understand how specific environments are related to various outcomes. Furthermore, they illustrate the importance of using a developmental perspective to understand how specific influences may vary across different ages, and across different phenotypes.
Although the clinical utility of categorically defined attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is well established, there is also strong evidence supporting the notion of ADHD as an extreme of a continuous trait. Nevertheless, the question of whether the etiology is the same for different levels of DSM-IV ADHD symptoms remains to be investigated. The aim of this study was to assess genetic links between the extreme and the subthreshold range of ADHD symptoms.
Parents of all Swedish 9- and 12-year-old twins born between 1992 and 2000 were interviewed for DSM-IV ADHD symptoms and associated conditions. Two validated cutoff values were used for screening and assigning research diagnoses. Response rate was 80%. Twin methods were applied to investigate the extent to which ADHD is etiologically distinct from subthreshold variations in ADHD symptoms.
Extremes analyses indicated a strong genetic link between the extreme and the subthreshold variation, with almost identical group heritability estimates around .60 for the diagnostic (prevalence 1.78%) and screening (prevalence 9.75%) criteria of ADHD.
A strong genetic link between the extreme and the subthreshold variation of DSM-IV based assessments of ADHD symptoms was found. The data suggest that ADHD is best viewed as the quantitative extreme of genetic and environmental factors operating dimensionally throughout the distribution of ADHD symptoms, indicating that the same etiologic factors are involved in the full range of symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Associations between child maltreatment and adult violence, often termed the 'cycle of violence', are well documented. However, the nature of such links after appropriate control for confounding remains uncertain. We aimed to determine whether child maltreatment causes adult violent offending or whether suggested links are due to genetic or family environment confounding.
A total of 18 083 20- to 47-year-old twins from the Swedish population-based Study of Twin Adults: Genes and Environment (STAGE) participated. We linked information on self-reported child maltreatment with national register data on convictions for adult crime. We used a case-control design to elucidate associations among unrelated individuals and also conducted within-discordant twin pair analyses to estimate the influence of familial confounding on this association.
The odds ratio (OR), adjusted for age, sex and education, for violent offending in maltreated children grown up versus unrelated controls was 1.98 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.52-2.57]. However, the association decreased to 1.18 (95% CI 0.62-2.25) when maltreated children were compared to their non-maltreated twins, suggesting substantial confounding by genetic or family environmental factors (within-twin OR1.00). Familial confounding was also pronounced for the association between child maltreatment and any offending.
Childhood maltreatment was found to be a weak causal risk factor for adult violent offending; hence, reducing maltreatment might decrease violent crime less than previously expected. Instead, considerable familial confounding of the link between child maltreatment and adult violent offending suggests that prevention strategies need to address overlapping genetic and/or family environmental liability for abusive and violent behavior.
BACKGROUND: Patients may present with cognitive impairment in the euthymic phase of affective disorder, but it is unclear whether the impairment is prevalent before onset of the illness. The aim of the present study was to examine the hypothesis that genetic liability to affective disorder is associated with cognitive impairment. METHOD: In a cross-sectional high-risk case-control study, healthy monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins with (High-Risk twins) and without (the control group/Low-Risk twins) a co-twin history of affective disorder were identified through nationwide registers. Cognitive performance of 203 High-Risk and Low-Risk twins was compared. RESULTS: Healthy twins discordant for unipolar disorder showed lower performance on almost all measures of cognitive function: selective and sustained attention, executive function, language processing and working and declarative memory, and also after adjustment for demographic variables, subclinical symptoms and minor psychopathology. Healthy twins discordant for bipolar disorder showed lower performance on tests measuring episodic and working memory, also after adjustment for the above-mentioned covariables. The discrete cognitive impairment found seemed to be related to genetic liability, as the MZ High-Risk twins showed significant impairment on selective and sustained attention, executive function, language processing and working and declarative memory, whereas the DZ High-Risk twins presented with significantly lower scores only on language processing and episodic memory. CONCLUSIONS: The hypothesis that discrete cognitive impairment is present before the onset of the affective disorder and is genetically transmitted was supported. Thus, cognitive function may be a candidate endophenotype for affective disorders.
In 1975 and again in 1981, all adult twins in the population-based Finnish Twin Cohort were administered postal questionnaires yielding data on self-reported frequency and quantity of alcohol use. The longitudinal results provide information on the age-to-age stability of social drinking patterns among 13,404 (twin) individuals aged 18 to 43 at baseline; model-fitting the cross-temporal consistency of the twins' reported alcohol use yields unique estimates of the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to their individual age-to-age stabilities. Mean consumption levels did not change between 1975 and 1981. Patterns of social drinking were more stable in older (aged 24-43 at baseline) than younger (aged 18-23 at baseline) adult twins, and were more stable among men than women. Heritabilities were significant at both baseline and follow-up for all three alcohol measures in both genders and both age groups, with a median magnitude of 0.48. Both longitudinal genetic and environmental covariances were significant, and both were generally higher among older pairs. Genetic covariances (median magnitude = 0.68) were significantly higher than environmental covariances (median = 0.36). Analyses of absolute changes in alcohol use revealed heritable influences on the disposition to change. We conclude that genes contribute to both consistency and change in patterns of alcohol use from early to midadulthood.
In order to further understand why depressive symptoms are associated with negative goal appraisals, the present study examined the genetic and environmental correlations and interactions between depressive symptoms and career-related goal appraisals. A total of 1,240 Finnish twins aged 21-26 years completed a questionnaire containing items on the appraisal of their career goals along five dimensions: importance, progress, effort, strain, and self-efficacy. In the same questionnaire, the 10-item General Behavior Inventory assessed depressive symptoms. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the genetic and environmental correlations and gene-environment interactions between the career-goal appraisals and depressive symptoms. Associations were identified, and were attributed to environmental factors. Of the career-related goal appraisals, the shared environmental component was of a higher magnitude for the dimension of strain among the depressed compared with non-depressed subjects. The results indicate that the interplay between depressive symptoms and negative career-related goal appraisals is significantly affected by environmental factors, and thus possibly susceptible to targeted interventions.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the pattern of genetic and environmental influences on symptoms of anxiety and depression (SxAnxDep) from childhood to early adulthood.MethodParental- and self-reported levels of SxAnxDep were assessed at ages 8-9, 13-14, 16-17 and 19-20 years in 2508 twins from the Swedish Twin Study of Child and Adolescent Development (TCHAD). Analysis conducted using the Mx program included SxAnxDep by parental and self-report. RESULTS: The best-fit model revealed one genetic risk factor for SxAnxDep acting at ages 8-9, 13-14, 16-17 and 19-20, and new sets of genetic risk factors 'coming on line' in early adolescence, late adolescence and early adulthood. Together, these genetic factors were very strong influences on the levels of SxAnxDep reported in common by parents and twins with heritability estimates, correcting for rater- and time-specific effects, ranging from 72% to 89%. The first genetic factor, which accounted for 72% of the variance in SxAnxDep at ages 8-9, attenuated sharply in influence, accounting for only 12% of the variance by ages 19-20. No evidence was found for shared environmental influences. Although not statistically significant, the correlation between genetic risk factors for SxAnxDep in males and females declined with advancing age. CONCLUSIONS: Genetic effects on SxAnxDep are developmentally dynamic from middle childhood to young adulthood, demonstrating both genetic innovation and genetic attenuation. The attenuation might explain the low levels of continuity observed for anxiety and depressive disorders from childhood to adulthood. Differences in genetic risk factors for SxAnxDep in males and females may increase during development.
To investigate whether diagnostic data from structured interviews, primary care and specialist care registries on major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety disorders (AD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) identify the same individuals, yield comparable comorbidity estimates and reflect the same genetic influences.
Registry data from primary and specialist care were available for 11 727 twins and diagnostic interview data for 2271 of these. We used logistic regression analyses and biometric modelling to investigate the overlap between the data sources.
Most individuals meeting diagnostic criteria at interview were not registered with a corresponding diagnosis. The rates of registration were higher for MDD (36% in primary care and 15% in specialist care) and AD (21% and 18%) than for AUD (3% and 7%). Comorbidity estimated as odds ratios, but not as polychoric correlations, was higher in the registries than in the interviews. Genetic influences on the disorders were highly correlated across data sources (median r = 0.81), bordering unity for MDD and AD.
Prevalence and comorbidity estimates differ between registries and population-based assessment. Nevertheless, diagnoses from health registries reflect the same genetic influences as common mental disorders assessed in the general population, indicating generalizability of aetiological factors across data sources.