Effects of Genotype and Sleep on Temperament Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:Sleep problems are frequent in young children; however, children vary in the degree to which they are affected by poor sleep quality. We investigated whether a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene, which is linked to emotional function, is a potential moderator of the influences of sleep duration on infant temperament using longitudinal data.METHODS:We examined the interactive effects of average sleep duration between 6 and 36 months of age and the 5-HTTLPR genotype on negative emotionality/behavioral dysregulation at 36 months in 209 children recruited into a longitudinal birth cohort study. Triallelic genotyping of 5-HTTLPR was performed by looking at SLC6A4 genotype, focusing on the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) including the SNP polymorphism (rs23351). Child sleep habits were assessed with a maternal self-report questionnaire.RESULTS:After controlling for demographics and both previous and concurrent maternal depression, multiple linear regression analyses revealed a significant interaction effect of average sleep duration for the first 3 years of life and 5-HTTLPR genotype on child negative emotionality/behavioral dysregulation such that the effects were exclusive to those with low-expressing 5-HTTLPR genotypes.CONCLUSIONS:The results suggest differential susceptibility to the effect of sleep duration early in life, which reiterates that the short allele of the 5-HTTLPR represents a marker of increased environmental sensitivity regarding emotional development. Differential susceptibility theory posits that certain factors may increase an individual’s susceptibility to the environment, in either a positive or negative fashion.


  • Bouvette-Turcot, Andrée-Anne
  • Pluess, Michael
  • Bernier, Annie
  • Pennestri, Marie-Hélène
  • Levitan, Robert
  • Sokolowski, Marla B
  • Kennedy, James L
  • Minde, Klaus
  • Steiner, Meir
  • Pokhvisneva, Irina
  • Meaney, Michael J
  • Gaudreau, Hélène

publication date

  • October 1, 2015