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J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2019 May-Jun;48(3):412-422. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2018.1514613. Epub 2018 Nov 5.

Infant Temperament in the FMR1 Premutation and Fragile X Syndrome.

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a Department of Psychological Sciences , Purdue University.
b RTI International.
c Department of Psychology , University of South Carolina.


Although temperament has been studied for decades as a predictor of psychopathology in the general population, examining temperament in neurogenetic groups has unique potential to inform the genetic and biological factors that may confer risk for psychopathology in later development. The present study examined early temperament in two heritable neurogenetic conditions associated with atypical CGG repeat expansions on the FMR1 gene: the FMR1 premutation (FXpm; 55-200 repeats) and fragile X syndrome (FXS; > 200 repeats). We focus specifically on the FXpm, as the condition is highly prevalent (1:209-291 female individuals, 1:430-855 male individuals) and has been preliminarily associated with increased risk for pediatric psychopathology, including attention problems, autism, and anxiety. In contrast, FXS is a low-incidence disorder (1:7,143 males, 1:11,111 females) often associated with intellectual disability and severe co-occurring psychosocial conditions, particularly in male individuals. Given information on infant clinical phenotypes in the FXpm and FXS is sparse, we aimed to characterize parent-reported infant temperament in infants with the FXpm (n = 22) relative to FXS (n = 24) and controls (n = 24) assessed on 1 to 3 occasions each. Temperament in infants with the FXpm largely fell between TD and FXS groups, with trends toward suppressed negative affect in younger participants, similar to lower negative affect previously reported in FXS. The FXS group consistently demonstrated lower negative affect and surgency than TD controls. These data suggest that FMR1 gene mutations are associated with atypical temperament that emerges as early as infancy, particularly among infants with FXS, warranting further study of whether temperament may index emergent clinical risks in these populations.

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