Objective: Women exposed to childhood maltreatment (CM) are more likely to exhibit insensitive parenting, which may have consequences for their offspring's development. Variation in the oxytocin-receptor gene (OXTR) moderates risk of CM-associated long-term sequelae associated with mother−child attachment, although functionality of previously investigated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) remained elusive. Here, we investigated the role of OXTR rs237895, a brain tissue expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL), as a moderator of the relationship between CM and maternal behavior (MB) and the association between MB and offspring attachment security. Method: Of 110 women with information on rs237895 genotype (T-allele = 64, CC = 46), 107 had information on CM (CTQ) and 99 on standardized observer-based ratings of MB at 6 months postpartum (responsivity and detachment), which were used in principal component analysis to obtain a latent factor representing MB. Offspring (n = 86) attachment was evaluated at 12 months of age. Analyses predicting MB were adjusted for socioeconomic status, age, postpartum depression, and genotype-based ethnicity. Analyses predicting child attachment were adjusted for infant sex, socioeconomic status, and postpartum depression. Results: rs237895 significantly moderated the relationship between CM and MB (F1;66 = 7.99, p < .01), indicating that CM was associated with maternal insensitivity only in high−OXTR-expressing T-allele carriers but not in low−OXTR-expressing CC homozygotes. Moreover, maternal insensitivity predicted offspring insecure attachment (B = –0.551; p < .05). Conclusion: Women with a high OXTR expressing genotype are more susceptible to CM-related impairments in MB that, in turn, predict attachment security in their children, supporting the role of the OT system in the intergenerational transmission of risk associated with maternal CM.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry|
|State||Published - Dec 2019|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health