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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;42(10):1212-20.

Genetic and environmental contributions to stability and change in children's internalizing and externalizing problems.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Jolande@bhp.be

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To estimate genetic, shared environmental, and nonshared environmental contributions to stability and change in internalizing and externalizing problems.

METHOD:

Maternal Child Behavior Checklist ratings were obtained for 3,873 twin pairs at age 3 and 1,924 twin pairs at age 7. For 1,575 twin pairs, ratings were available at both ages.

RESULTS:

For Internalizing/Externalizing ratings, genetic, shared, and nonshared environmental factors explained about 59/51%, 10/30%, and 31/19% of the variance at age 3, and 40/52%, 31/32%, and 29/16% of the variance at age 7. The phenotypic correlation of r = 0.38/0.54 between problems assessed at 3 and 7 years of age was explained for 66/55% by genetic factors, for 23/37% by shared environmental factors, and for 11/8% by nonshared environmental factors. The genetic, shared environmental, and nonshared environmental correlations between ages 3 and 7 were 0.51/0.57, 0.47/0.66, and 0.13/0.24, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

Genetic and shared environmental factors were most important for the stability of Internalizing and Externalizing Problems between ages 3 and 7. Nonshared environmental factors were mainly age-specific. For Internalizing Problems, shared environment may become more important from early to middle childhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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