Maternal and paternal effects on offspring internalizing problems: Results from genetic and family-based analyses

Eshim S Jami, Espen Moen Eilertsen, Anke R Hammerschlag, Zhen Qiao, David M Evans, Eivind Ystrøm, Meike Bartels, Christel M Middeldorp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


It is unclear to what extent parental influences on the development of internalizing problems in offspring are explained by indirect genetic effects, reflected in the environment provided by the parent, in addition to the genes transmitted from parent to child. In this study, these effects were investigated using two innovative methods in a large birth cohort. Using maternal-effects genome complex trait analysis (M-GCTA), the effects of offspring genotype, maternal or paternal genotypes, and their covariance on offspring internalizing problems were estimated in 3,801 mother-father-child genotyped trios. Next, estimated genetic correlations within pedigree data, including 10,688 children, were used to estimate additive genetic effects, maternal and paternal genetic effects, and a shared family effect using linear mixed effects modeling. There were no significant maternal or paternal genetic effects on offspring anxiety or depressive symptoms at age 8, beyond the effects transmitted via the genetic pathway between parents and children. However, indirect maternal genetic effects explained a small, but nonsignificant, proportion of variance in childhood depressive symptoms in both the M-GCTA (~4%) and pedigree (~8%) analyses. Our results suggest that parental effects on offspring internalizing problems are predominantly due to transmitted genetic variants, rather than the indirect effect of parental genes via the environment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics
Early online date1 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 May 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Authors. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


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