The genetic basis of psychological traits in infancy: Implications for understanding the causes of developmental psychopathology

Kostas Papageorgiou, Angelica Ronald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

This chapter reviews genetic studies that have aimed to identify genes influencing psychological traits in infancy (from birth to age 12 months), and considers how this research informs us about the causes of developmental psychopathology. Specifically, this chapter systematically reviews findings from studies that associated common genetic variants with individual variation in infants’ attention, temperament and behaviour, and attachment disorganisation. DRD4 and 5-HTTLPR genes were the most frequently studied candidate genes. Possibly the most coherent set of results relates to the L-DRD4 genotype, which is significantly associated with infant attention, temperament, and attachment style. Research in infant genetics has been strengthened by a careful focus on uniform age ranges within studies, by several longitudinal studies, and by exploration of gene-environment interactions between genes and maternal characteristics. However there is also considerable inconsistency in results in this field and possible reasons for this are discussed. The chapter outlines the main genetic methods that have been used and what new genetic approaches such as polygenic risk scoring could offer infant genetics. Recent findings suggest that some traits during infancy predict individual differences in developmental psychopathology in childhood. It is argued that infant genetic research has considerable potential for the identification of populations at risk for psychopathology in later life, and this remains an area open for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology
PublisherWILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2017

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    Papageorgiou, K., & Ronald, A. (2017). The genetic basis of psychological traits in infancy: Implications for understanding the causes of developmental psychopathology. In The Handbook of Developmental Psychopathology WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC.