Genetic, environmental and gender influences on attachment disorder behaviours

Helen Minnis, Joanne Reekie, David Young, Tom O'Connor, Angelica Ronald, Alison Gray, Robert Plomin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background Despite current interest in attachment disorder, there is concern about its discrimination from other disorders and an unproven assumption of an environmental aetiology. Aims To test whether behaviours suggestive of attachment disorder are distinct from other childhood behavioural and emotional problems and are solely environmentally determined.

Method In a community sample of 13 472 twins, we carried out factor analysis of questionnaire items encompassing behaviours indicative of attachment disorder, conduct problems, hyperactivity and emotional difficulties. We used behavioural genetic model-fitting analysis to explore the contribution of genes and environment.

Results Factor analysis showed clear discrimination between behaviours suggestive of attachment disorder, conduct problems, hyperactivity and emotional problems. Behavioural genetics analysis suggested a strong genetic influence to attachment disorder behaviour, with males showing higher heritability.

Conclusions Behaviours suggestive of attachment disorder can be differentiated from common childhood emotional and behavioural problems and appear to be strongly genetically influenced, particularly in boys.


INTRODUCTION TOP
ABSTRACT
INTRODUCTION
METHOD
RESULTS
DISCUSSION
REFERENCES

There have been recent attempts to codify behaviours associated with early neglect and institutionalisation (Chisolm et al, 1995; Zeanah et al, 2004) into a psychiatric category. Both DSM–IV and ICD–10 describe reactive attachment disorder, with two subtypes encompassing inhibited and disinhibited behaviour (World Health Organization, 1992; American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Questions remain about the nosology of the syndrome beyond age 5 years (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2005), therefore we simply refer to ‘attachment disorder behaviours’. We seek to extend the extant literature by testing two hypotheses: first, that the two subtypes are distinct from one another and from other common behavioural and emotional problems in young children, and second that these behavioural patterns are environmentally mediated. We capitalise on a twin study, a design that provides particular leverage in testing environmental hypotheses.
LanguageEnglish
Pages490-495
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Volume190
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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Behavioral Genetics
Conduct Disorder
Statistical Factor Analysis
Reactive Attachment Disorder
Adolescent Psychiatry
Institutionalization
Child Psychiatry
Twin Studies
Genetic Models
International Classification of Diseases
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Psychiatry
Genes
Problem Behavior
Surveys and Questionnaires

Keywords

  • genetics
  • neuroscience

Cite this

Minnis, Helen ; Reekie, Joanne ; Young, David ; O'Connor, Tom ; Ronald, Angelica ; Gray, Alison ; Plomin, Robert. / Genetic, environmental and gender influences on attachment disorder behaviours. In: British Journal of Psychiatry . 2007 ; Vol. 190. pp. 490-495.
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Genetic, environmental and gender influences on attachment disorder behaviours. / Minnis, Helen; Reekie, Joanne; Young, David; O'Connor, Tom; Ronald, Angelica; Gray, Alison; Plomin, Robert.

In: British Journal of Psychiatry , Vol. 190, 2007, p. 490-495.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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