FKBP5 genotype and early life stress exposure predict neurobehavioral outcomes for preterm infants

Amy L. D'Agata, Stephen Walsh, Dorothy Vittner, Xiaomei Cong, Jacqueline M. McGrath, Erin E. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


PROBLEM: This study evaluated the relationship between stressful early life neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) experiences, genetic variation of a stress response-associated gene (FKBP5), and neurobehavioral outcomes. METHOD: The impact of genetic variation and stress experience on neurobehavioral outcomes was examined for 41 preterm infants. Statistical analyses explored the main effects of FKBP5 genotype and NICU stress experience, as well as their interaction on infant neurobehavioral development prior to discharge. RESULTS: Statistical analyses demonstrated a relationship between both FKPB5 genotype and stress related to NICU care that were independently associated with neurobehavioral outcomes; indicating a main effect of genotype and a main effect of stress on neurodevelopment. Additionally, we found an interaction between the minor allele genotype and NICU stress potentially associated with less favorable developmental progress at discharge. IMPLICATIONS: Evidence of genetic and environmental risk factors for neurodevelopmental impairment suggests the need for improved evidence-based practice initiatives to protect those most vulnerable to the combination of genetic susceptibility to stress and medical fragility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-418
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • FKBP5
  • NICU
  • early life experience
  • genotype
  • neurodevelopment
  • prematurity
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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