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Prenatal maternal depression and child serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) and dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) genotype predict negative emotionality from 3 to 36 months


Prenatal maternal depression and a multilocus genetic profile of two susceptibility genes implicated in the stress response were examined in an interaction model predicting negative emotionality in the first 3 years. In 179 mother–infant dyads from the Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability, and Neurodevelopment cohort, prenatal depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depressions Scale) was assessed at 24 to 36 weeks. The multilocus genetic profile score consisted of the number of susceptibility alleles from the serotonin transporter linked polymorphic region gene (5-HTTLPR): no long-rs25531(A) (LA: short/short, short/long-rs25531(G) [LG], or LG/LG] vs. any LA) and the dopamine receptor D4 gene (six to eight repeats vs. two to five repeats). Negative emotionality was extracted from the Infant Behaviour Questionnaire—Revised at 3 and 6 months and the Early Child Behavior Questionnaire at 18 and 36 months. Mixed and confirmatory regression analyses indicated that prenatal depression and the multilocus genetic profile interacted to predict negative emotionality from 3 to 36 months. The results were characterized by a differential susceptibility model at 3 and 6 months and by a diathesis–stress model at 36 months.

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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Ashley Wazana, Centre for Child Development and Mental Health, Jewish General Hospital, 4335 Cote Sainte Catherine Road, Montreal, QC H3T 1E4, Canada; E-mail:
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This research was made possible by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the March of Dimes Foundation, and the Fonds de Research du Quebec. The Maternal Adversity, Vulnerability, and Neurodevelopment (MAVAN) project has been supported by funding from the McGill Faculty of Medicine, the Blema & Arnold Steinberg Family Foundation, and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. We thank all members and participants of the MAVAN project for their time and commitment to this research. We also thank David Brownlee, Vincent Jolivet, Amber Rider, Patricia Szymkow, and Michael Pluess for their contributions.

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