Genetic and Environmental Contributions to Common Psychopathologies of Childhood and Adolescence: A Study of Twins and Their Siblings

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Abstract

We report findings based on analyses of self-reports of six common adolescent psychopathologies (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD; conduct disorder, CD; oppositional defiant disorder, ODD; generalized anxiety disorder, GAD; separation anxiety disorder, SAD; and major depressive disorder, MDD) in a sample of 1,162 male and female adolescent (12–19 years) twin pairs and 426 siblings. Prevalence statistics for past year and lifetime reports confirm differences between genders for CD, GAD, SAD, and MDD, and a lack of differences between twins and their non-twin siblings. Biometrical modeling was conducted to ascertain the relative influences of genes, and shared and non-shared environments contributing to these disorders. A more robust estimate of these parameters was obtained by including non-twin siblings. Age-specific thresholds were integrated into the analyses to appropriately model the developmental patterns of behavior. We found evidence for both genetic and non-shared environmental influences for all disorders. Shared environmental influences also seem to be important for MDD and lifetime GAD.

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