Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 29
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Bandelow, Borwin Baldwin, David Abelli, Marianna Altamura, Carlo Dell’Osso, Bernardo Domschke, Katharina Fineberg, Naomi A. Grünblatt, Edna Jarema, Marek Maron, Eduard Nutt, David Pini, Stefano Vaghi, Matilde M. Wichniak, Adam Zai, Gwyneth and Riederer, Peter 2016. Biological markers for anxiety disorders, OCD and PTSD – a consensus statement. Part I: Neuroimaging and genetics. The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, p. 1.

    Defenderfer, Ellen K. Davies, W. Hobart Raicu, Ana-Maria Brei, Natalie and Klein-Tasman, Bonita P. 2016. Childhood toilet fears as an early behavioral indicator of anxiety. Children's Health Care, p. 1.

    Gagne, Jeffrey R. O'Sullivan, Deirdre L. Schmidt, Nicole L. Spann, Catherine A. and Goldsmith, H. Hill 2016. The Shared Etiology of Attentional Control and Anxiety: An Adolescent Twin Study. Journal of Research on Adolescence,

    Pine, Daniel S. and Klein, Rachel G. 2015. Rutter's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

    Barrow, Faye Heyman, Isobel Scott, Stephen and Krebs, Georgina 2014. “Rituals or rivalry?” The phenomenology and treatment of sibling specific obsessions in paediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, Vol. 3, Issue. 3, p. 209.

    Seehagen, Sabine Margraf, Jürgen and Schneider, Silvia 2014. The Wiley Handbook of Anxiety Disorders.

    Wilson, Beverly J. Manangan, Christen N. Dauterman, Hayley A. and Davis, Heather N. 2014. ADHD Symptoms Moderate the Relation Between ASD Status and Internalizing Symptoms in 3–6-Year-Old Children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 44, Issue. 6, p. 1347.

    Bögels, Susan M. Knappe, Susanne and Clark, Lee Anna 2013. Adult separation anxiety disorder in DSM-5. Clinical Psychology Review, Vol. 33, Issue. 5, p. 663.

    Fond, G. and Franc, N. 2013. Traiter la phobie spécifique de l’enfant en une séance ? Une revue systématique de la littérature. L'Encéphale, Vol. 39, Issue. 2, p. 109.

    Herren, Chantal In-Albon, Tina and Schneider, Silvia 2013. Beliefs regarding child anxiety and parenting competence in parents of children with separation anxiety disorder. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Vol. 44, Issue. 1, p. 53.

    Mohapatra, Satyakam Agarwal, Vivek and Sitholey, Prabhat 2013. Pediatric anxiety disorders. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 6, Issue. 5, p. 356.

    Beesdo-Baum, Katja and Knappe, Susanne 2012. Developmental Epidemiology of Anxiety Disorders. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Vol. 21, Issue. 3, p. 457.

    Mills, Rosemary S. L. Hastings, Paul D. Helm, Jonathan Serbin, Lisa A. Etezadi, Jamshid Stack, Dale M. Schwartzman, Alex E. and Li, Hai Hong 2012. Temperamental, Parental, and Contextual Contributors to Early-emerging Internalizing Problems: A New Integrative Analysis Approach. Social Development, Vol. 21, Issue. 2, p. 229.

    Scaini, Simona Ogliari, Anna Eley, Thalia C. Zavos, Helena M.S. and Battaglia, Marco 2012. GENETIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO SEPARATION ANXIETY: A META-ANALYTIC APPROACH TO TWIN DATA. Depression and Anxiety, Vol. 29, Issue. 9, p. 754.

    Harden, Kathryn P. and Mendle, Jane 2011. Why Don’t Smart Teens Have Sex? A Behavioral Genetic Approach. Child Development, Vol. 82, Issue. 4, p. 1327.

    McGinn, Lata K. Jerome, Yael and Nooner, Kate B. 2010. Family Functioning and Anxiety in School Age Children: The Mediating Role of Control Cognitions. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, Vol. 3, Issue. 3, p. 228.

    Beesdo, Katja Knappe, Susanne and Pine, Daniel S. 2009. Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Developmental Issues and Implications for DSM-V. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, Vol. 32, Issue. 3, p. 483.

    Bolton, Derek Rijsdijk, Frühling Eley, Thalia C. O’Connor, Thomas G. Briskman, Jacqueline and Perrin, Sean 2009. Normative childhood repetitive routines and obsessive compulsive symptomatology in 6-year-old twins. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 50, Issue. 9, p. 1139.

    Dodd, Helen F. Schniering, Carolyn A. and Porter, Melanie A. 2009. Beyond Behaviour: Is Social Anxiety Low in Williams Syndrome?. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 39, Issue. 12, p. 1673.

    Hallett, Victoria Ronald, Angelica Rijsdijk, Fruhling and Eley, Thalia C 2009. Phenotypic and genetic differentiation of anxiety-related behaviors in middle childhood. Depression and Anxiety, Vol. 26, Issue. 4, p. 316.


Prevalence and genetic and environmental influences on anxiety disorders in 6-year-old twins


Background. Prevalence of childhood anxiety disorders at specific ages and genetic etiological influences on anxiety disorders in young children have been little studied. The present study reports prevalence estimates in a community sample of 6-year-old twins, and patterns of genetic and environmental influences on these early-onset anxiety disorders.

Method. Using a two-phase design 4662 twin-pairs were sampled and 854 pairs were assessed in the second phase by maternal-informant diagnostic interview using DSM-IV criteria.

Results. The most common conditions were separation anxiety disorder (SAD) [2·8%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·1–3·8, for current disorder] and specific phobia (10·8%, 95% CI 8·4–13·6, for current disorder). Behavioral genetic modeling was feasible for these two conditions, applied to two phenotypes: symptom syndrome (regardless of impairment) and the narrower one of diagnostic status (symptom syndrome with associated impairment). The heritability estimate for SAD diagnostic status was high, 73%, with remaining variance attributed to non-shared environment. The heritability estimates for specific phobia were also high, 80% for the symptom syndrome and 60% for diagnostic status, with remaining variance attributed in both cases to non-shared environment.

Conclusions. Compared with previous epidemiological surveys of children and adolescents in wide age-bands, the current estimates suggest that rates of anxiety disorders assessed in young childhood are generally at least as high and perhaps higher compared with those found in older children. The heritability estimates suggest that the genetic effects on these early-onset anxiety disorders are substantial and more significant than environmental effects, whether shared or non-shared.

Corresponding author
Psychology Department, Institute of Psychiatry, PO Box 77, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. (Email:
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *