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Behav Genet. 2013 May;43(3):191-201. doi: 10.1007/s10519-013-9586-x. Epub 2013 Feb 3.

Genetic innovation and stability in externalizing problem behavior across development: a multi-informant twin study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, EURON, Maastricht University, Vijverdalseweg 1, Concorde Building, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


The use of cross-informant ratings in previous longitudinal studies on externalizing behavior may have obscured the presence of continuity of genetic risk. The current study included latent factors representing the latent estimates of externalizing behavior based on both parent and self-report which eliminated rater-specific effects from these latent estimates. Symptoms of externalizing behavior of 1,480 Swedish twin pairs were obtained at ages 8-9, 13-14, 16-17 and 19-20 both by parent and self-report. Mx modeling was used to estimate additive genetic, shared and specific environmental influences. Genetic continuity was found over the entire developmental period as well as additional sources of genetic influence emerging around early and late adolescence. New unique environmental effects (E) on externalizing behavior arose early in adolescence. The results support both the presence of genetic continuity and change in externalizing behavior during adolescence due to newly emerging genetic and environmental risk factors.

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