The effects of child maltreatment and polymorphisms of the serotonin transporter and dopamine D4 receptor genes on infant attachment and intervention efficacy

Dante Cicchetti, Fred A. Rogosch, Sheree L. Toth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

This investigation examined the extent to which polymorphisms of the serotonin transporter linked promoter region (5-HTTLPR) and the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) genes differentially influenced the development of attachment security and disorganization in maltreated and nonmaltreated infants at age 13 months, and the extent to which the efficacy of preventive interventions to promote attachment security were influenced by genetic variation. The sample consisted of 106 infants from maltreating families, participating in a randomized control trial evaluating the efficacy of two interventions, child-parent psychotherapy and psychoeducational parenting intervention, and 47 infants from nonmaltreating families. DNA samples were genotyped for polymorphisms of 5-HTTLPR, DRD4 exon III variable number tandem repeat, and DRD4-521. Attachment organization at age 1 and at age 2 was assessed with the Strange Situation for all participants, prior to and following the completion of the interventions. High rates of disorganized attachment were observed in the maltreatment compared to the nonmaltreatment group, and both interventions resulted in increased rates of attachment security at age 2. Genetic variation did not influence improvement in attachment organization among maltreated infants. Among maltreated infants, genetic variation had minimal effect on attachment organization. In contrast, among nonmaltreated infants, 5-HTTLPR and DRD4 polymorphisms influenced attachment security and disorganization at age 2 and the stability of attachment disorganization over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-372
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2011

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