Twin Research and Human Genetics


The Early Growth and Development Study: A Prospective Adoption Study From Birth Through Middle Childhood

Leslie D. Levea1 c1, Jenae M. Neiderhisera2, Daniel S. Shawa3, Jody Ganibana4, Misaki N. Natsuakia5 and David Reissa6

a1 Oregon Social Learning Center, Eugene, OR, USA

a2 Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

a3 Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

a4 Center for Family Research, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

a5 Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, CA, USA

a6 Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA


The Early Growth and Development Study is a prospective adoption study of birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children recruited in two cohorts (N = 561 triads). The primary study aims are to examine how family, peer, and contextual processes affect children's adjustment, and to examine their interplay (mediation, moderation) with genetic influences. Participants were recruited through adoption agencies located throughout the United States following the birth of a child. Assessments are ongoing, in 9-month intervals until the child reaches 3 years of age and in 1-year intervals thereafter through age 9. Data collection includes the following primary constructs: child temperament, social behavior, school performance, mental health, and health; birth and adoptive parent personality characteristics, mental health, competence, stress, health, context, substance use, parenting, and marital relations; and pregnancy use of drugs and maternal stress during pregnancy. DNA and salivary cortisol samples have also been collected. Analyses have indicated evidence for genotype-environment interactions during early childhood. Study procedures, sample representativeness (including tests of potential confounds in the adoption design), and an overview of findings to date are summarized, and future plans are described.

(Received September 02 2012)

(Accepted October 23 2012)

(Online publication December 07 2012)


  • adoption;
  • childhood;
  • longitudinal;
  • genetic;
  • parenting;
  • birth parent


c1 address for correspondence: Leslie D. Leve, Oregon Social Learning Center, 10 Shelton McMurphey Blvd., Eugene, OR 97401-4928. E-mail: