Mothers’ coping with early-life stress and its impact on mother-child interaction: The role of gene polymorphisms

Another subproject at the University Hospital of Heidelberg is investigating genetic factors  underlying the development of complex behaviors such as emotion regulation, reactivity to psychosocial stressors, maternal sensitivity, or children’ s responsiveness. By analyzing DNA samples from mothers and children who participate in the other subprojects, specific genetic variations, so called polymorphisms, will be determined and correlated with observed behaviors and indicators of subjective well-being. Results of previous research indicate that specific genetic characteristics are associated with sensitive reactions to both enhancing and demanding environmental influences. The way mothers experience and cope with early-life stress, the extent to which those experiences influence the interaction with and well-being of their child, and the efficiency of intervention programs might significantly be influenced by the mother’s or infant’s genes. Knowledge about genetic influences on coping with early-life stress and the emergence of specific behaviors thus constitute an important premise for developing interventions that are adapted to an individual’s needs.

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Section for Disorders of Personality Development

Prof. Dr. med. Romuald Brunner, Dr. phil. Dipl.-Psych. Corinna Reichl, Dr. med. Michael Kaess, Dipl.-Psych. Peter Parzer, Prof. Dr. med. Franz Resch