Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 11, pp 3646–3658 | Cite as

Behavioral Markers of Emergent Stranger Anxiety in Infants and Toddlers with Fragile X Syndrome

  • Bridgette Tonnsen
  • Jessica Scherr
  • Debra Reisinger
  • Jane RobertsEmail author
Original Paper


Studying anxiety in neurogenetic syndromes may inform the intersection of biological and developmental risks, facilitating effective and targeted interventions. We longitudinally examined stranger fear in infants and toddlers with fragile X syndrome (FXS; n = 46) and typical controls (n = 33), as well as associations between observed stranger fear and rating scales of anxiety, withdrawal and autism features within FXS. Results indicated atypical facial fear in FXS, although facial fear did not index anxiety, autistic symptoms or social withdrawal. Instead, lower withdrawal was associated with decreased distress vocalizations across age, and higher autistic symptoms were associated with lower intensity escape behaviors. Early stranger fear in FXS reflects both typical and atypical dimensions and may help index emergence of social anxiety in this population.


Fragile X syndrome Anxiety Autism Longitudinal Behavior Social approach 



Autism spectrum disorder


Fragile X syndrome



This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01MH090194, PI: Roberts; R01MH090194, PI: Roberts; 1R01MH107573, PI: Roberts; P30-HD003110, PI: Bailey) and the Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education (H324C990042).

Author Contributions

BT contributed to study conceptualization and led writing and analyses efforts. JS and DR assisted with writing and dataset construction and approved the final manuscript. JR contributed to study conceptualization, supported data interpretation and writing, and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Child Development CenterNationwide Children’s HospitalColumbusUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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