Maternal positive attitude towards one’s own infant is the cornerstone of effective parenting. Previous research has revealed an influence of both genetic and environmental factors on maternal parenting behavior, but little is known of the potential gene-environment interaction in shaping a mother’s affective attitude. To address this gap, we investigated the effect of a mother’s childhood rearing environment and a serotonin transporter gene polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) on affective attitude towards her infant.
Our analyses found an interactive effect between rearing environment and 5-HTTLPR genotype on maternal attitude. Specifically, a poor rearing environment (characterized by low maternal care and high paternal overprotection) decreased positive attitude towards one’s own infant in mothers with homozygous short allele genotype. In contrast, this detrimental effect was almost eliminated in long allele carriers. Altogether, our results indicate that the 5-HTTLPR gene moderates the influence of experienced rearing environment on maternal parental behavior in a manner consistent with the notion that the short 5-HTTLPR allele amplifies environmental influence.