Research suggests that genetic, prenatal, endocrine, and parenting influences across development individually contribute to internalizing and externalizing problems in children. The present study tests the combined contributions of genetic risk for psychopathology, prenatal environments (maternal drug use and internalizing symptoms), child cortisol at age 4.5 years, and overreactive parenting influences across childhood on 6-year-old children’s internalizing and externalizing problems. We used data from an adoption design that included 361 domestically adopted children and their biological and adopted parents prospectively followed from birth. Only parenting influences contributed (independently) to externalizing problems. However, genetic influences were indirectly associated with internalizing problems (through increased prenatal risk and subsequent morning cortisol), and parenting factors were both directly and indirectly associated with internalizing problems (through morning cortisol). Results suggest that prenatal maternal drug use/symptoms and children’s morning cortisol levels are mechanisms of genetic and environmental influences on internalizing problems, but not externalizing problems, in childhood.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics