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Mol Psychiatry. 2000 Sep;5(5):542-7.

Association of a functional polymorphism of the serotonin transporter gene with anxiety-related temperament and behavior problems in children: a longitudinal study from infancy to the mid-teens.

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  • 1Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.


A polymorphism in the promoter region of the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) has been associated with anxiety-related personality traits in adults. Initial studies showed that the short allele was associated with higher neuroticism, anxiety and harm avoidance. However, most attempts to replicate these findings have been negative. Because the association of candidate polymorphisms with behavioral traits may vary with stage of development, we investigated the association using participants in a longitudinal study of childhood temperament. DNA was available for 660 children who had been assessed for temperament from 4-8 months to 15-16 years, and for behaviour problems from 3-4 years to 15-16 years. No significant associations were found at most ages. However, at ages 13-14 years and 15-16 years, the long/long genotype was associated with higher anxiety. These findings do not support an association of the short allele with anxiety-related traits in early life.

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