[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal smoking during pregnancy (MSDP) has been robustly associated with externalizing problems and their developmental precursors in offspring in studies using behavioral teratologic designs (Wakschlag et al., Am J Public Health 92(6):966-974, 2002; Espy et al., Dev Psychol 47(1):153-169, 2011). In contrast, the use of behavior genetic approaches has shown that the effects commonly attributed to MSDP can be explained by family-level variables (D'Onofrio et al., Dev Psychopathol 20(01):139-164, 2008). Reconciling these conflicting findings requires integration of these study designs. We utilize longitudinal data on a preschool proband and his/her sibling from the Midwest Infant Development Study-Preschool (MIDS-P) to test for teratologic and family level effects of MSDP. We find considerable variation in prenatal smoking patterns both within and across pregnancies within families, indicating that binary smoking measures are not sufficiently capturing exposure. Structural equation models indicate that both conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder symptoms showed unique effects of MSDP over and above family level effects. Blending high quality exposure measurement with a within-family design suggests that it is premature to foreclose the possibility of a teratologic effect of MSDP on externalizing problems. Implications and recommendations for future studies are discussed.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Behavior Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prenatal tobacco exposure (PTE) and prenatal stress exposure (PSE) each have been linked to externalizing behavior, although their effects generally have been considered in isolation. Here, we aimed to characterize the joint or interactive roles of PTE and PSE in early developmental pathways to behavioral disinhibition, a profile of cognitive and behavioral under-control that presages severe externalizing behavior. As part of a prospective, longitudinal study, 296 children were assessed at a mean age of 5 years. Exposures were assessed via repeated interviews across the prenatal period and bioassays of cotinine were obtained. Behavioral disinhibition was assessed using temperament measures in infancy, performance-based executive control tasks and measures of disruptive and inattentive behavior. PSE was associated with a higher probability of difficult temperament in infancy. Each exposure independently predicted poorer executive control at age 5 years. Difficult temperament and executive control difficulties in turn predicted elevated levels of disruptive behavior, although links from PTE and PSE to parent-reported attention problems were less robust. Children who experienced these prenatal exposures in conjunction with higher postnatal stress exposure showed the lowest executive control and highest levels of disruptive behavior. Findings highlight the compounding adverse impact of PTE and PSE on children's behavioral trajectories. Given their high concordance, prenatal health campaigns should target these exposures in tandem.
No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Neurotoxicology and Teratology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expression of learned stimulus-reward associations based on context is essential for regulation of behavior to meet situational demands. Contextual regulation improves during development, although the developmental progression of relevant neural and cognitive processes is not fully specified. We therefore measured neural correlates of flexible, contextual expression of stimulus-reward associations in pre/early-adolescent children (ages 9–13 years) and young adults (ages 19–22 years). After reinforcement learning using standard parameters, a contextual reversal manipulation was used whereby contextual cues indicated that stimulus-reward associations were the same as previously reinforced for some trials (consistent trials) or were reversed on other trials (inconsistent trials). Subjects were thus required to respond according to original stimulus-reward associations vs. reversed associations based on trial-specific contextual cues. Children and young adults did not differ in reinforcement learning or in relevant functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) correlates. In contrast, adults outperformed children during contextual reversal, with better performance specifically for inconsistent trials. fMRI signals corresponding to this selective advantage included greater activity in lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), hippocampus, and dorsal striatum for young adults relative to children. Flexible expression of stimulus-reward associations based on context thus improves via adolescent development, as does recruitment of brain regions involved in reward learning and contextual expression of memory.
HighlightsEarly-adolescent children and young adults were equivalent in reinforcement learning.Adults outperformed children in contextual expression of stimulus-reward associations.Adult advantages correlated with increased activity of relevant brain regions.Specific neurocognitive developmental changes support better contextual regulation.
Preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective:
Smoking cessation during pregnancy may reflect altruistic motives on behalf of the unborn baby. We test the hypothesis that pregnancy quitters have higher maternal-fetal attachment than persistent smokers, and secondarily explore how maternal-fetal attachment differs among non-smokers, pregnancy quitters, and persistent smokers.
Participants were 156 women in the Behavior and Mood in Babies and Mothers study who provided report of smoking throughout pregnancy via timeline follow back interviews, with salivary cotinine confirmation of reported cessation at 30 and 35 week gestation, and postpartum day one. Maternal Fetal Attachment Scale total and subscale scores (role-taking, differentiation of self from fetus, interaction with fetus, attributing characteristics to fetus, giving of self) were examined among non-smokers, pregnancy quitters, and persistent smokers.
At 30 weeks, pregnancy quitters scored higher on the 'giving of self' subscale compared to persistent smokers (21.6±2.4 versus 19.9±2.9; p=.004). Maternal 'giving of self' also differentiated pregnancies exposed to cigarette smoking from those without exposure from 30 weeks through delivery (19.9±2.9 versus 21.2±2.2; p=.002). Controlling for age, income, unemployment, gravida, and father's smoking status, 'giving of self' differentiated pregnancy quitters from persistent smokers [OR=5.144; 95% C.I. 1.509 - 17.538; B (SE)=1.638 (.626); p=.009].
Women who reported a greater desire to maintain their personal health for the health of their fetus were more likely to quit smoking during pregnancy. Implications of findings for interventions and understanding mechanisms of risk are discussed.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Addictive Behaviors
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Bipolar disorder (BD) is highly familial, but studies have yet to examine preschoolers at risk for BD using standardized, developmentally appropriate clinical assessment tools. We used such methods to test whether preschoolers at familial risk for BD have more observed difficulty modulating emotions and behaviors than do low-risk preschoolers. Identification of emotional and behavioral difficulties in at-risk preschoolers is crucial for developing new approaches for early intervention and prevention of BD.Methods
Using the standardized disruptive behavior diagnostic observation schedule (DB-DOS) protocol for preschoolers, we compared 23 preschoolers (Mage: 4.53 ± 0.73 years; 18 males) with a first-degree relative with BD to 21 preschoolers (Mage: 4.65 ± 0.84 years; 11 males) without a family history of BD. We characterized psychopathology in this sample using the Preschool Aged Psychiatric Assessment and behavioral and emotional problems using the Child Behavior Checklist.ResultsHigh-risk preschoolers demonstrated significantly more intense, pervasive, and clinically concerning problems in anger modulation and behavior dysregulation on the DB-DOS than the low-risk group. High-risk relative to low-risk preschoolers, were also more likely to have maternal-reported anxiety and oppositional defiant disorders and internalizing and externalizing problems.Conclusions
Clinically concerning problems in anger modulation and behavior regulation, measured during standardized laboratory observation, differentiate preschoolers at high familial risk for BD from those at low risk. Investigation in a large longitudinal sample is critical for replication and for determining whether these observed behavioral differences can be reliably used as prodromal indicators of mood disorders.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Depression and Anxiety
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Attention bias toward threat is associated with anxiety in older youth and adults and has been linked with violence exposure. Attention bias may moderate the relationship between violence exposure and anxiety in young children. Capitalizing on measurement advances, this study examines these relationships at a younger age than previously possible.Methods
Young children (mean age 4.7, ±0.8) from a cross-sectional sample oversampled for violence exposure (N = 218) completed the dot-probe task to assess their attention biases. Observed fear/anxiety was characterized with a novel observational paradigm, the Anxiety Dimensional Observation Scale. Mother-reported symptoms were assessed with the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment and Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children. Violence exposure was characterized with dimensional scores reflecting probability of membership in two classes derived via latent class analysis from the Conflict Tactics Scales: Abuse and Harsh Parenting.ResultsFamily violence predicted greater child anxiety and trauma symptoms. Attention bias moderated the relationship between violence and anxiety.Conclusions
Attention bias toward threat may strengthen the effects of family violence on the development of anxiety, with potentially cascading effects across childhood. Such associations may be most readily detected when using observational measures of childhood anxiety.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Impairment in learning from punishment ("punishment insensitivity") is an established feature of severe antisocial behavior in adults and youth but it has not been well studied as a developmental phenomenon. In early childhood, differentiating a normal: abnormal spectrum of punishment insensitivity is key for distinguishing normative misbehavior from atypical manifestations. This study employed a novel measure, the Multidimensional Assessment Profile of Disruptive Behavior (MAP-DB), to examine the distribution, dimensionality, and external validity of punishment insensitivity in a large, demographically diverse community sample of preschoolers (3-5 years) recruited from pediatric clinics (N = 1,855). Caregivers completed surveys from which a seven-item Punishment Insensitivity scale was derived. Findings indicated that Punishment Insensitivity behaviors are relatively common in young children, with at least 50 % of preschoolers exhibiting them sometimes. Item response theory analyses revealed a Punishment Insensitivity spectrum. Items varied along a severity continuum: most items needed to occur "Often" in order to be severe and behaviors that were qualitatively atypical or intense were more severe. Although there were item-level differences across sociodemographic groups, these were small. Construct, convergent, and divergent validity were demonstrated via association to low concern for others and noncompliance, motivational regulation, and a disruptive family context. Incremental clinical utility was demonstrated in relation to impairment. Early childhood punishment insensitivity varies along a severity continuum and is atypical when it predominates. Implications for understanding the phenomenology of emergent disruptive behavior are discussed.
No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prenatal smoking cessation has been described as an empathic action "for the baby," but this has not been empirically demonstrated. We capitalized on a genetically-characterized extant dataset with outstanding measurement of prenatal smoking patterns and maternal face processing data (as an indicator of empathy) to test this hypothesis, and explore how empathy and smoking patterns may be moderated by a genetic substrate of empathy, the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR). Participants were 143Caucasian women from the East Boston family study with repeated prospective reports of smoking level, adjusted based on repeated cotinine bioassays. Salivary DNA and face processing (Diagnostic Analysis of Nonverbal Accuracy-2) were assessed 14 years later at an adolescent follow-up of offspring. Two-thirds of participants reported smoking prior to pregnancy recognition. Of these, 21% quit during pregnancy; 56% reduced smoking, and 22% smoked persistently at the same level. A significant interaction between face processing and OXTR variants previously associated with increased sensitivity to social context, rs53576GG and rs2254298A, was found (beta =-.181; p =.015); greater ability to identify distress in others was associated with lower levels of smoking during pregnancy for rs53576(GG)/rs2254298(A) individuals (p = .013), but not for other genotypes (p = .892). Testing this "empathy hypothesis of prenatal smoking cessation" in larger studies designed to examine this question can elucidate whether interventions to enhance empathy can improve prenatal smoking cessation rates.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Neuroscience Letters
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Comprehensive assessments that include parents and teachers are essential when assessing young children vulnerable to emotional and behavioral problems given the multiple systems and contexts that influence and support optimal development (U. Bronfenbrenner & P. A. Morris, 2006; M. J. Guralnick, 2011). However, more data complicate clinical and educational decision making given the challenge of integrating comprehensive data. We report on initial efforts to develop and apply Integrative Consensus procedures designed to synthesize comprehensive assessment data using developmentally informed guidelines. Mother-teacher dyads (N = 295) reported on disruptive behavior in a sample of 295 low-income 3- to 5-year-olds; one-third referred for disruptive behaviors, one-third nonreferred with behavioral concerns, and one-third nonreferred. Two clinicians trained in Integrative Consensus procedures independently applied the framework, with findings highlighting that children identified as disruptive by Integrative Consensus ratings plus mother or teacher ratings significantly predicted behavior problems and impaired social skills. Children identified as disruptive via Integrative Consensus were 4 times more likely to be rated as impaired by their mother at follow-up than by mother or teacher report. Reliability estimates were high ( = 0.84), suggesting that the method has promise for identifying young children with behavior problems while systematically integrating comprehensive data.
No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Infants and young children
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dimensional approaches are gaining scientific traction. However, their potential for elucidating developmental aspects of psychopathology has not been fully realized. The goal of this article is to apply a multidimensional, developmental framework to model the normal-abnormal spectrum of preschool disruptive behavior. The Multidimensional Assessment of Preschool Disruptive Behavior (MAP-DB), a novel measure, was used to model dimensional severity across developmental parameters theorized to distinguish the normative misbehavior of early childhood from clinically salient disruptive behavior. The 4 MAP-DB dimensions are Temper Loss, Noncompliance, Aggression, and Low Concern for Others.
Parents of a diverse sample of 1,488 preschoolers completed the MAP-DB. Multidimensional item response theory (IRT) was used for dimensional modeling.
The 4-dimensional, developmentally informed model demonstrated excellent fit. Its factor loadings did not differ across demographic subgroups. All dimensions provided good coverage of the abnormal end of the severity continuum, but only Temper Loss and Noncompliance provided good coverage of milder, normatively occurring behaviors. The developmental expectability and quality of behaviors distinguished normative from atypical behaviors. The point at which frequency of behaviors was atypical varied based on dimensional location for Temper Loss, Noncompliance, and Aggression.
The MAP-DB provides an innovative method for operationalizing developmentally specified, dimensional phenotypes in early childhood. Establishing the validity of these dimensional phenotypes in relation to clinical outcomes, neurocognitive substrates, and etiologic pathways will be a crucial test of their clinical utility.
No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prenatal tobacco exposure (PTE) has a well-documented association with disruptive behavior in childhood, but the neurocognitive effects of exposure that underlie this link are not sufficiently understood. The present study was designed to address this gap, through longitudinal follow-up in early childhood of a prospectively enrolled cohort with well-characterized prenatal exposure. Three-year-old children (
= 151) were assessed using a developmentally sensitive battery capturing both cognitive and motivational aspects of self-regulation. PTE was related to motivational self-regulation, where children had to delay approach to attractive rewards, but not cognitive self-regulation, where children had to hold information in mind and inhibit prepotent motor responses. Furthermore, PTE predicted motivational self-regulation more strongly in boys than in girls, and when propensity scores were covaried to control for confounding risk factors, the effect of PTE on motivational self-regulation was significant only in boys. These findings suggest that PTE's impact on neurodevelopment may be greater in boys than in girls, perhaps reflecting vulnerability in neural circuits that subserve reward sensitivity and emotion regulation, and may also help to explain why PTE is more consistently related to disruptive behavior disorders than attention problems.
No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Development and Psychopathology