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January 1990

Psychiatric Correlates of Behavioral Inhibition in Young Children of Parents With and Without Psychiatric Disorders

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical Psychopharmacology and Psychosomatic Medicine Units (Drs Biederman, Rosenbaum, Faraone, and Meminger and Mss Hirshfeld and Bolduc), and the Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Child Psychiatry Service (Drs Biederman, Faraone, and Gersten), Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass; the Department of Psychology and Social Relations, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass (Drs Kagan and Snidman); the Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Conn (Dr Reznick); and the Psychiatry Service, Brockton-West Roxbury (Mass) Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Section of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Genetics, Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston (Dr Faraone).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990;47(1):21-26. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1990.01810130023004

• Behavioral inhibition is a laboratory-based temperamental category by the tendency to constrict behavior in unfamiliar situations and assumed to reflect low thresholds of limbic arousal. We previously found behavioral inhibition prevalent in the offspring of parents with panic disorder and agoraphobia. In this report, we examined the psychiatric correlates of behavioral inhibition by evaluating the sample of offspring of parents with panic disorder and agoraphobia, previously dichotomized as inhibited and not inhibited, and an existing epidemiologically derived sample of children, followed by Kagan and colleagues and originally identified at 21 months of age as inhibited or uninhibited. A third group of healthy children was added for comparison. Our findings indicate that inhibited children had increased risk for multiple anxiety, overanxious, and phobic disorders. It is suggested that behavioral inhibition may be associated with risk for anxiety disorders in children.

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