This project utilizes an adoption design to examine the interplay between genetic, prenatal, and postnatal environmental influences on early pathways to conduct, anxiety, and depressive problems by (a) conducting a psychiatric assessment of adopted children between 6.0 and 7.5 years of age and (b) conducting a psychiatric assessment of adoptive parents. Psychiatric assessments of the birth parents have already been conducted and these data will be utilized in the proposed analyses. In addition, DNA is being collected on all participants and will be available for analysis in the present study. The present study builds on a longitudinal prospective adoption study conducted during early childhood: two cohorts of adopted children and their birth and adoptive parents were recruited and assessed across 3 - 6 waves from infancy through early childhood (Early Growth and Development Study;EGDS-Cohort I, R01 HD42608 and EGDS-Cohort II, R01 DA020585). Combined with the rich existing data, the proposed data will allow us to better characterize early emerging emotional and behavioral symptoms in children that have been shown to predict later psychiatric problems. Because we will have DNA samples and data from birth and adoptive parents, we will be able to disentangle how prenatal, genetic, and rearing environment factors are related to early emerging emotional and behavioral symptoms, as well as to later psychiatric symptoms. To our knowledge, no other existing dataset or resource exists that can disentangle and examine the interplay among genetic, prenatal, and postnatal environmental influences on the development of symptoms in young children. The proposed study will allow us to achieve the following specific aims: SA1: Identify early emerging behaviors and emotions in children that predict onset of psychiatric symptoms in young children;SA2: Examine prenatal exposure to substances and prenatal stress in exacerbating genetic risk for psychiatric symptoms;SA3: Consider the mediating and moderating role of the rearing environment on prenatal and genetic risk factors on psychiatric symptoms in childhood;SA4: Assess how adoptive parents'stress and their own psychiatric symptoms impact the rearing environment and mediate and/or moderate genetic and prenatal influences.

Public Health Relevance

Individuals with psychiatric disorders place an enormous burden on society in economic, resource allocation, and productivity, as well as individual and family-level costs. This study advances the ability to identify early behaviors and contexts that predict the development of psychiatric symptoms in young children. Identifying such behaviors and contexts can guide prevention efforts, thereby reducing the prevalence rates of disorder.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Zehr, Julia L
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Pennsylvania State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
University Park
United States
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