Risk factors for the childhood development of co-occurring internalizing and externalizing symptoms are not well understood, despite a high prevalence and poor clinical outcomes associated with this co-occurring phenotype. We examined inherited and environmental risk factors for co-occurring symptoms in a sample of children adopted at birth and their birth mothers and adoptive mothers (N = 293). Inherited risk factors (i.e., birth mothers' processing speed and internalizing symptoms) and environmental risk factors (i.e., adoptive mothers' processing speed, internalizing symptoms, and uninvolved parenting) were examined as predictors for the development of internalizing-only, externalizing-only, or co-occurring symptoms using structural equation modeling. Results suggested a unique pattern of predictive factors for the co-occurring phenotype, with risk conferred by adoptive mothers' uninvolved parenting, birth mothers' slower processing speed, and the birth mothers' slower processing speed in tandem with adoptive mothers' higher internalizing symptoms. Additional analyses indicated that when co-occurring-symptom children were incorporated into internalizing and externalizing symptom groups, differential risk factors for externalizing and internalizing symptoms emerged. The findings suggest that spurious results may be found when children with co-occurring symptoms are not examined as a unique phenotypic group.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health