Although genetic factors may contribute to initial liability for ADHD onset, there is growing evidence of the potential importance of the rearing environment on the developmental course of ADHD symptomatology. However, associations between family-level variables (maternal hostility, maternal depressive symptoms) and child behaviors (developmental course of ADHD and aggression) may be explained by genes that are shared by biologically related parents and children. Furthermore, ADHD symptoms and aggression commonly co-occur: it is important to consider both simultaneously to have a better understanding of processes underlying the developmental course of ADHD and aggression. To addresses these issues, we employed a longitudinal genetically sensitive parent–offspring adoption design. Analyses were conducted using Cohort I (n = 340) of the Early Growth and Development Study with cross-validation analyses conducted with Cohort II (n = 178). Adoptive mother hostility, but not depression, was associated with later child ADHD symptoms and aggression. Mothers and their adopted children were genetically unrelated, removing passive rGE as a possible explanation. Early child impulsivity/activation was associated with later ADHD symptoms and aggression. Child impulsivity/activation was also associated with maternal hostility, with some evidence for evocative gene-environment correlation processes on adoptive mother depressive symptoms. This study provides novel insights into family-based environmental influences on child ADHD and aggression symptoms, independent of shared parental genetic factors, implications of which are further explicated in the discussion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics