Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 1–17 | Cite as

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

  • Marissa A. EhringerEmail author
  • Soo Hyun Rhee
  • Susan Young
  • Robin Corley
  • John K. Hewitt
Original Article

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.


adolescence psychopathology genetics environment 



This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants MH43899, HD010333, and DA011015. The authors thank Ms. Sally-Ann Rhea for her assistance in recruitment and interviewing subjects.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marissa A. Ehringer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Soo Hyun Rhee
    • 1
    • 3
  • Susan Young
    • 1
  • Robin Corley
    • 1
  • John K. Hewitt
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Behavioral GeneticsUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUS
  2. 2.Department of Integrative PhysiologyUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUS
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUS
  4. 4.Institute for Behavioral GeneticsUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUS

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