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J Child Neurol. 2015 Oct;30(11):1459-65. doi: 10.1177/0883073815570151. Epub 2015 Feb 16.

Fears in the General Population: More Frequent in Females and Associated With the Serotonin Transporter Promoter Polymorphism and Perceived Relationship With Mothers.

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Centre of Behavioral and Health Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
Centre of Behavioral and Health Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.


This study aimed to examine the structure of fears of youth, and its associations with gender, genetic variation of the serotonin transporter (5-HTTLPR), and perceived maternal acceptance/rejection and control, in a population-representative sample. Participants were 453 adolescents and 540 young adults. Fears were assessed by a 18-item Fear Questionnaire, and perceived maternal relationships by the Mother Acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire. A structured psychiatric interview was used to assess current and lifetime psychiatric disorders in participants from the older cohort. A principal component analyses indicated 2 components, named Fear/Phobia and Panic/Despair. Females expressed higher level of fears and symptoms of despair regardless of the serotonin transporter genotype. The 5-HTTLPR genotype nevertheless played a role in the association between fears and perceived relationships: in S/S-genotype, more Fear/Phobia was reported by the participants who perceived greater maternal acceptance in combination with strict maternal control, and had a history of psychiatric disorder.


fears; maternal acceptance/rejection; maternal control; population representative sample; psychiatric; serotonin transporter gene

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