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Developmental Patterns of Child Emotion Dysregulation as Predicted by Serotonin Transporter Genotype and Parenting.


Individual differences in emotion regulation are central to social, academic, occupational, and psychological development, and emotion dysregulation (ED) in childhood is a risk factor for numerous developmental outcomes. The present study aimed to (a) describe the developmental trajectory of ED across early childhood (3-6 years) and (b) examine its sensitivity to youth serotonin transporter genotype, positive and negative parenting behaviors, and their interaction. Participants were 99 families in the Collaborative Family Study, a longitudinal study of children with or without developmental delays. Child ED and early parenting were coded from parent-child interactions. To examine serotonin transporter genotype as a moderator between parenting and child emotion dysregulation (ED), children with the homozygous short (SS) genotype were compared to children with the homozygous long (LL) or heterozygous (SL) genotype. We used latent growth curve modeling (LGCM) to model yearly change in ED from child age 3 to 6 years. LGCM revealed that ED decreased overall across early childhood. In addition, we observed separate Genotype × Positive and Genotype × Negative parenting behavior interactions in predictions of ED growth curves. Children with the SL/LL genotype had ED trajectories that were minimally related to positive and negative parenting behavior, whereas ED decreased more precipitously among children with the SS genotype when exposed to low negative parenting or high positive parenting. These findings provide evidence for Gene × Environment interactions (G×Es) in the development of ED in a manner that is conceptually consistent with vantage sensitivity, and they improve inferences afforded by prospective designs.

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