Maternal smoking during pregnancy and child emotional problems: The relevance of maternal and child 5-HTTLPR genotype

RAM Cents, Henning Tiemeier, FP Velders, Vincent Jaddoe, Bert Hofman, Frank Verhulst, Mijke Lambregtse - van den Berg, James joseph Hudziak

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Serotonin is involved in the development of neural circuits modulating emotional behavior. The short allele (s) of a polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) of the serotonin transporter gene is a risk factor for psychopathology in the presence of environmental stressors. Maternal smoking is associated with growth restriction of the human fetal brain and adverse effects of nicotine on the developing serotonin system have been documented. We hypothesized that maternal smoking interacts with both child and mother 5-HTTLPR genotype as a risk factor for later child emotional problems. In a sample of n=1,529 mother-child dyads, smoking habits were assessed by questionnaires during pregnancy. Child emotional problems were measured by the Child Behavior Checklist at the child's age of 3 years. Maternal smoking during pregnancy significantly increased the risk for emotional problems in children carrying the s-allele; beta=0.24, P=0.03 (mother-report), and beta=0.46, P=0.001 (father-report). In children heterozygous at 5-HTTLPR and exposed to maternal prenatal smoking (n=79) risk of emotional problems increased with each additional s-allele the mother carried. The associations between 5-HTTLPR and child emotional problems were not moderated by paternal prenatal smoking. These findings imply that the vulnerability for emotional problems in s-allele carriers may already originate in fetal life. (c) 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)289-297
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics Part B-Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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