Observed parenting behaviors interact with a polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene to predict the emergence of oppositional defiant and callous–unemotional behaviors at age 3 years
Using the Durham Child Health and Development Study, this study (N = 171) tested whether observed parenting behaviors in infancy (6 and 12 months) and toddlerhood/preschool (24 and 36 months) interacted with a child polymorphism of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene to predict oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and callous–unemotional (CU) behaviors at age 3 years. Child genotype interacted with observed harsh and intrusive (but not sensitive) parenting to predict ODD and CU behaviors. Harsh–intrusive parenting was more strongly associated with ODD and CU for children with a methionine allele of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene. CU behaviors were uniquely predicted by harsh–intrusive parenting in infancy, whereas ODD behaviors were predicted by harsh–intrusive parenting in both infancy and toddlerhood/preschool. The results are discussed from the perspective of the contributions of caregiving behaviors as contributing to distinct aspects of early onset disruptive behavior.