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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990 Jan;47(1):21-6.

Psychiatric correlates of behavioral inhibition in young children of parents with and without psychiatric disorders.

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Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114.


Behavioral inhibition is a laboratory-based temperamental category by the tendency to constrict behavior in unfamiliar situations and assumed to reflect low thresholds of limbic arousal. We previously found behavioral inhibition prevalent in the offspring of parents with panic disorder and agoraphobia. In this report, we examined the psychiatric correlates of behavioral inhibition by evaluating the sample of offspring of parents with panic disorder and agoraphobia, previously dichotomized as inhibited and not inhibited, and an existing epidemiologically derived sample of children, followed by Kagan and colleagues and originally identified at 21 months of age as inhibited or uninhibited. A third group of healthy children was added for comparison. Our findings indicate that inhibited children had increased risk for multiple anxiety, overanxious, and phobic disorders. It is suggested that behavioral inhibition may be associated with risk for anxiety disorders in children.

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