Evidence For Genetic Effects On The Behavior Of Normal Two-Week Old Babies

May 25, 1998

Dopamine D4 receptor and serotonin transporter promoter in the determination of neonatal temperament RP Ebstein, J Levine, V Geller, J Auerbach, I Gritsenko, RH Belmaker Research Laboratory, S. Herzog Memorial Hospital, P.O. Box 35300, Jerusalem 91351, Israel; Beersheva Mental Health Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. box 4600, Beersheva, Israel; Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

Many of the known human genes exist in variant or polymorphic forms that are distributed frequently in the general population. Some, but not all, recent studies have shown a contribution of such common genetic polymorphisms to the determination of adult human personality traits, especially novelty or sensation seeking and harm avoidance or neuroticism. Since marked deviations in adult personality traits might be potential risk factors for some psychiatric disorders such as alcoholism and depression, early identification of deviations in these temperaments might be important in the design of intervention strategies. A group of Israeli scientists reports in the current issue of Molecular Psychiatry (http://www.stockton-press.co.uk/mp/) on a study in which they used the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) to examine the contribution of the so-called novelty seeking' and the 'neuroticism' genes to the behavioral responses of 81 two-week old babies. Prof. Brazelton of Harvard Medical School designed the NBAS in order to evaluate the kind of person the newborn baby is. It assesses the baby's behavioral repertoire as he responds to human and non-human stimuli. The way the baby uses states of consciousness to control his or her responses reveals the baby's capacity to respond to his new environment. A statistically significant association was observed of variants of the dopamine D4 receptor gene previously shown by some investigators to be related to 'novelty seeking' across four behavioral clusters pertinent to newborn temperament. The effect of the short variant of the serotonin transporter gene promoter, which some investigators have found to be associated with 'neuroticism,' in those infants was to lower their NBAS orientation scores. Orientation may be understood as an active, attentive and searching process for infants, perhaps a neonatal precursor to adult novelty seeking behavior. In infants as in adults, personality appears, therefore, to be partially determined by the developmental interaction between underlying genetic mechanisms contributing respectively to behavioral activation and inhibition. This study further suggests that it might be possible in the future, by combining very early in life genetic and behavioral tests, to detect antecedents of adult personality traits allowing clinicians and parents to more intelligently guide the newborn's psychological development.

For information on this Molecular Psychiatry article, please contact the author:
Dr. Richard P. Ebstein
at the Research Laboratory
S. Herzog Memorial Hospital
P.O. Box 35300
Jerusalem 91351
Israel
Tel: 972-2-5316855
Fax: 972-2-5316853
ebstein@netmedia.net.il
reference:Molecular Psychiatry 1998; 3 (May): in press


This article is from the May 1998 issue of Molecular Psychiatry, an independent peer-reviewed journal published by Stockton Press-Macmillan Press.

Editor: Julio Licinio, MD
editorial assistant: Julie Vianello
Bldg. 10/2D46
10 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-1284
USA
Tel: +1 301 496-6979
Fax: +1 301 402-1561
j.vianello@stockton-press.co.uk

Publisher:
Marija Vukovojac
Stockton Press
Phone and Fax: +44 1483 892119
100743.2265@CompuServe.com
-end-


Molecular Psychiatry

Related Infants Articles from Brightsurf:

Most infants are well even when moms are infected by COVID-19
Infants born to women with COVID-19 showed few adverse outcomes, according to the first report in the country of infant outcomes through eight weeks of age.

Probiotic may help treat colic in infants
Probiotics -- or 'good bacteria' -- have been used to treat infant colic with varying success.

Deaf infants' gaze behavior more advanced than that of hearing infants
Deaf infants who have been exposed to American Sign Language are better at following an adult's gaze than their hearing peers, supporting the idea that social-cognitive development is sensitive to different kinds of life experiences.

Initiating breastfeeding in vulnerable infants
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are well-recognized, including for late preterm infants (LPI).

Young infants with fever may be more likely to develop infections
Infants with a high fever may be at increased risk for infections, according to research from Penn State College of Medicine.

Early term infants less likely to breastfeed
A new, prospective study provides evidence that 'early term' infants (those born at 37-38 weeks) are less likely than full-term infants to be breastfeed within the first hour and at one month after birth.

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer
Researchers at the University of Connecticut and University of Washington looked at the mechanisms involved in language learning among nine-month-olds, the youngest population known to be studied in relation to on-screen learning.

Allergic reactions to foods are milder in infants
Majority of infants with food-induced anaphylaxis present with hives and vomiting, suggesting there is less concern for life-threatening response to early food introduction.

Non-dairy drinks can be dangerous for infants
A brief report published in Acta Paediatrica points to the dangers of replacing breast milk or infant formula with a non-dairy drink before one year of age.

Infants can't talk, but they know how to reason
A new study reveals that preverbal infants are able to make rational deductions, showing surprise when an outcome does not occur as expected.

Read More: Infants News and Infants Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.