Etiology of Different Developmental Trajectories of Callous-Unemotional Traits

Indiana University, USA.
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 7.26). 07/2010; 49(7):656-64. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2010.03.014
Source: PubMed


To investigate the longitudinal development of callous-unemotional traits (CU) in middle childhood using developmental trajectory analyses in a large twin dataset and examine the degree to which genetic and environmental influences contributed to the CU trajectory-group membership in children.
The study included 9,462 youths from the Twins Early Development Study, a population-based sample of twins from the United Kingdom. Developmental trajectories were described using teachers' ratings of CU at 7, 9, and 12 years old.
We identified four trajectories of CU through general growth mixture modeling: stable high, increasing, decreasing, and stable low. In most cases, the trajectory-group membership was largely driven by genetic and to a lesser extent by nonshared environmental influences for boys and girls. The most notable exception was a strong contribution of shared environment for the girls in the stable-high trajectory group.
Our findings suggest distinct developmental trajectories of CU from childhood to early adolescence, which are in most cases influenced by genetic factors and, to a lesser degree, by nonshared environmental factors. Highest heritability was observed for boys on a stable-high CU trajectory. Interestingly, the trajectory-group membership for girls on a stable-high CU trajectory appeared to be almost entirely driven by shared environmental influences. These differences in the etiology of stable-high CU in boys and girls have potential implications for clinical practice and studies attempting to identify genetic and environmental risk factors for high CU.

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Available from: Nathalie M. G. Fontaine
    • "For this reason , several studies have examined the stability of CU traits across childhood or from childhood to early adolescence (Frick et al., 2003; Dadds et al., 2005; Obradivic et al., 2007; Fontaine et al., 2010, 2011). For instance, Fontaine et al. (2010) found that a small proportion of children have unstable levels of CU traits over time, although elevated levels of CU traits (even if unstable) represent a relevant marker for risk of adjustment problems in early adolescence. All these previous studies focused primarily on normative or at-risk samples; specifically, no studies examined in a clinical sample the association between CU traits in childhood and later Contents lists available at ScienceDirect journal homepage: "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study investigated trajectories of Callous Unemotional (CU) traits in youth with Disruptive Behavior Disorder diagnosis followed-up from childhood to adolescence, to explore possible predictors of these trajectories, and to individuate adolescent clinical outcomes. A sample of 59 Italian referred children with Disruptive Behavior Disorder (53 boys and 6 girls, 21 with Conduct Disorder) was followed up from childhood to adolescence. CU traits were assessed with CU-scale of the Antisocial Process Screening Device-parent report. Latent growth curve models showed that CU traits are likely to decrease linearly from 9 to 15 years old, with a deceleration in adolescence (from 12 to 15). There was substantial individual variability in the rate of change of CU traits over time: patients with a minor decrease of CU symptoms during childhood were at increased risk for severe behavioral problems and substance use into adolescence. Although lower level of socio-economic status and lower level of parenting involvement were associated to elevated levels of CU traits at baseline evaluation, none of the considered clinical and environmental factors predicted the levels of CU traits. The current longitudinal research suggests that adolescent outcomes of Disruptive Behavior Disorder be influenced by CU traits trajectories during childhood.
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    • "Second, and despite the aforementioned gender differences, gender-by-group interactions in relation to individual and contextual outcomes variables were not identified. This set of findings altogether suggests that girls and boys on stable high, decreasing or increasing CU trajectory groups are not differentiated on individual and contextual measures during childhood, a finding that converges with prior evidence (Fontaine et al., 2010Fontaine et al., , 2011). Future studies are needed to replicate and extend these findings. "
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    ABSTRACT: This longitudinal study examines developmental heterogeneity in callous-unemotional (CU) traits in a large sample of school-age children in Cyprus. Latent Class Growth Analysis revealed 4 trajectory groups of CU traits across 3 time points: stable high, increasing, decreasing, and low. Findings suggested that children in the stable high CU trajectory were more likely to (a) exhibit high and stable levels of conduct problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, impulsivity and narcissism, (b) experience low parental involvement and high parental distress, © report low peer support and school connectedness, and (d) score lower on academic performance, executive functioning, social competence, and self-regulation compared to children with low, decreasing, and increasing CU traits. These findings were verified by both parent and child reports. Repeated analysis of variance suggested that increases and decreases in CU traits were associated with similar changes in conduct problems, narcissism, impulsivity, and maternal involvement. Further, children in the decreasing trajectory group were not differentiated from children in the low risk group on measures of executive functioning, academic performance, school connectedness, and peer social support at the last wave of measurement. These findings provide evidence for the importance of taking longitudinal change into account for understanding developmental heterogeneity in CU traits and the association of these traits with possible protective (e.g., stable high maternal involvement) and risk (e.g., decreases in maternal involvement and increases in conduct problems, impulsivity and narcissism) variables. (PsycINFO Database Record
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    • "A clinician-rated instrument that uses a structured interview and collateral information to assess psychopathic traits, such as the PCL-YV (Forth et al. 2003) might be a better approach for future studies with individuals from low SES backgrounds. Moreover, previous studies reporting data on self-reported CU traits often involved community-screened youngsters and did not match groups for SES or IQ (e.g., Essau et al. 2006; Fontaine et al. 2011, 2010; Viding et al. 2009) casting some doubt on the validity of the CU results. "
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    ABSTRACT: Antisocial individuals have problems recognizing negative emotions (e.g. Marsh & Blair in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 32:454–465, 2009); however, due to issues with sampling and different methods used, previous findings have been varied. Sixty-three male young offenders and 37 age-, IQ- and socio-economic status-matched male controls completed a facial emotion recognition task, which measures recognition of happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, and surprise and neutral expressions across 4 emotional intensities. Conduct disorder (YSR), and psychopathic and callous/unemotional traits (YPI) were measured, and offenders’ offense data were taken from the Youth Offending Service’s case files. Relative to controls, offenders were significantly worse at identifying sadness, low intensity disgust and high intensity fear. A significant interaction for anger was also observed, with offenders showing reduced low- but increased high-intensity anger recognition in comparison with controls. Within the young offenders levels of conduct disorder and psychopathic traits explained variation in sadness and disgust recognition, whereas offense severity explained variation in anger recognition. These results suggest that antisocial youths show specific problems in recognizing negative emotions and support the use of targeted emotion recognition interventions for problematic behavior.
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