To the Editor: We certainly agree with Dr. Harvey that many environmental factors may influence adolescent disinhibited behavior, including neglect or abuse in the home as well as psychiatric disorders in the parents. We also believe that adoption designs offer an especially sensitive test for the presence of family-level environmental influences. That is, studying adoptive families allows researchers to control for genetic confounding when examining between-family environmental effects. Our study presented evidence for one environmentally mediated pathway by which parental smoking increased risk for substance use in adolescent offspring. Another study, using the same sample, demonstrated that maternal depression represented an environmental liability for major depression and disruptive behavior disorders in adolescent offspring (1). We hope that these results will encourage further investigation of environmental influences on adolescent behavior within the context of a genetically informative design.
1.Tully EC, Iacono WG, McGue M: An adoption study of parental depression as an environmental liability for adolescent depression and childhood disruptive disorders. Am J Psychiatry 2008; 165: 1148–1154
The author’s disclosures accompany the original article.
This letter (doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2008.08111721r) was accepted for publication in December 2008.
Reprints are not available; however, Letters to the Editor can be downloaded at http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org.