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Unformatted text preview: Parenting Moderates a Genetic Vulnerability Factor in Longitudinal Increases in Youths Substance Use Gene H. Brody and Steven R. H. Beach University of Georgia Robert A. Philibert University of Iowa Yi-fu Chen, Man-Kit Lei, Velma McBride Murry, and Anita C. Brown University of Georgia The authors used a longitudinal, prospective design to investigate a moderation effect in the association between a genetic vulnerability factor, a variable nucleotide repeat polymorphism in the promoter region of 5HTT (5-HTTLPR), and increases in youths substance use. The primary study hypothesis predicted that involvedsupportive parenting would attenuate the link between the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and longitudinal increases in substance use. African American youths residing in rural Georgia ( N 5 253, mean age 5 11.5 years) provided 4 waves of data on their own substance use; the mothers of the youths provided data on their own parenting practices. Genetic data were obtained from youths via saliva samples. Latent growth curve modeling indicated that 5-HTTLPR status (presence of 1 or 2 copies of the s allele) was linked with increases in substance use over time; however, this association was greatly reduced when youths received high levels of involvedsupportive parenting. This study demonstrates that parenting processes have the potential to ameliorate genetic risk. Keywords: adolescence, African American, genetics, parenting, substance use The increase in substance use that some young people experi- ence across late childhood and early adolescence contributes to a nonnormative developmental trajectory that includes affiliation with unconventional peers, lack of motivation, poor academic performance, and school dropout (Cairns, Cairns, & Neckerman, 1989). In addition, use of illicit drugs before age 14 has prognostic significance for substance use and mental health problems at later ages (Christie et al., 1988; Hawkins et al., 1997). Research on the etiology of substance use in early adolescence has focused on a range of contextual factors (e.g., parenting, peers, neighborhood) and intraindividual factors (e.g., temperament, self-regulation, psy- chological symptomatology; Pandina & Johnson, 1999; Weinberg, Rahdert, Colliver, & Glanz, 1998). This research has begun to move beyond main effects models and to address transactions between individual characteristics and environmental contexts that increase or decrease the probability of youths initiating or avoid- ing regular substance use. For example, young adolescents with temperamental characteristics (e.g., high activity levels and emo- tional intensity) that render them vulnerable to substance use become less likely to use if their family environments provide instrumental and emotional support (Brody, Flor, Hollett-Wright, & McCoy, 1998). Conspicuously absent from transactional anal- yses to date, though, is a consideration of genetic factors that operate in conjunction with environmental factors to forecast sub-...
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