Differential susceptibility in a developmental perspective: DRD4 and maternal sensitivity predicting externalizing behavior

Dafna A. Windhorst, Viara R. Mileva-Seitz, Mariëlle Linting, Albert Hofman, Vincent W.V. Jaddoe, Frank C. Verhulst, Henning Tiemeier, Marinus H. van Ijzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This study is the first to investigate the longitudinal effects of gene-environment interplay between DRD4 genotype and maternal sensitivity on child externalizing behavior. Multiple measures of maternal sensitivity (14, 36, and 48 months) and externalizing behavior (18 months, 36 months, and 5 years) were assessed in a large cohort study (N=548). Early maternal insensitivity (14 months) was associated with early externalizing behavior (18 months) in a for better and for worse manner, but only in children with at least one DRD4 7-repeat, consistent with a differential susceptibility model. Later insensitivity (48 months) predicted externalizing behavior at age 5 independent of DRD4 genotype. A structural equation model including all measures across time supported the differential susceptibility model: The overall effect of early maternal sensitivity on later externalizing behavior was significant only for children with a DRD4 7-repeat allele. The results highlight the importance of studying gene-environment interactions across development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Volume57
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Differential susceptibility
  • DRD4
  • Externalizing behavior
  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Parenting

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