Neuroticism and Major Affective Disorders as
Risk Factors for Children in Quebec, Canada
studies indicate that many people experience major affective disorders
(MADs) at some time in their lives. Both genetic and nongenetic
factors contribute to the development of MADs. A research team
at the University of Montreal designed a longitudinal study to
elucidate interactions between parental MADs and other parental
characteristics as risk factors for children's behavioral and
emotional problems (Ellenbogen & Hodgins, 2004). Parents of
146 Quebec 4- to 14-year-olds were assessed with French translations
of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R (SCID), the
NEO-PI-R five-factor personality inventory, and other measures.
French language CBCLs were completed by parents and TRFs were
completed by teachers. The Child Assessment Schedule (CAS) was
administered by clinicians to assess children's symptoms. Children
whose parents obtained high neuroticism scores received significantly
higher scores on the Anxious/Depressed, Withdrawn, and Social
Problems syndromes of the CBCL and TRF than did children whose
parents obtained lower neuroticism scores. Based on the CAS, clinicians
also reported more symptoms among children whose parents obtained
high neuroticism scores. Although the children had not yet entered
the age of high risk for MADs, it appeared that the children's
problems were predicted by parental neuroticism and its associated
characteristics, over and above any effects of diagnosed MADs.
This was true for problems assessed with the TRFs completed by
teachers and the CAS completed by clinicians, as well as for problems
assessed with the CBCL completed by parents. The authors concluded
that "parents' neuroticism, partly through its influence
on psychosocial factors, was predictive of child social, emotional,
and behavioral functioning during middle childhood . . . In contrast,
indices of genetic risk for the MADs had no direct impact on child
functioning" (p. 129).
Reference: Ellenbogen, M.A., & Hodgins, S. (2004).
The impact of high neuroticism in parents on children's psychosocial
functioning in a population at high risk for major affective disorder:
A family-environmental pathway of intergenerational risk. Development
and Psychopathology, 16, 113-136.