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Lauren Micalizzi and Angelica Ronald joint first authors.
A genetically informed cross-lagged model was applied to twin data to explore etiological links between autistic-like traits and affective problems in early childhood. The sample comprised 310 same-sex twin pairs (143 monozygotic and 167 dizygotic; 53 % male). Autistic-like traits and affective problems were assessed at ages 2 and 3 using parent ratings. Both constructs were related within and across age (r = 0.30–0.53) and showed moderate stability (r = 0.45–0.54). Autistic-like traits and affective problems showed genetic and environmental influences at both ages. Whereas at age 2, the covariance between autistic-like traits and affective problems was entirely due to environmental influences (shared and nonshared), at age 3, genetic factors also contributed to the covariance between constructs. The stability paths, but not the cross-lagged paths, were significant, indicating that there is stability in both autistic-like traits and affective problems but they do not mutually influence each other across age. Stability effects were due to genetic, shared, and nonshared environmental influences. Substantial novel genetic and nonshared environmental influences emerge at age 3 and suggest change in the etiology of these constructs over time. During early childhood, autistic-like traits tend to occur alongside affective problems and partly overlapping genetic and environmental influences explain this association.
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- A Genetically Informed Cross-Lagged Analysis of Autistic-Like Traits and Affective Problems in Early Childhood
Kimberly J. Saudino
- Springer US