Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Psychological and Brain Sciences
Anxiety disorders; Mothers; Siblings; Williams syndrome; Anxiety; Etiology; Genetics; Developmental disorders
Williams syndrome--Genetic aspects; Anxiety disorders
Genetic factors play an important role in the etiology of anxiety disorders. Williams syndrome (WS), a genetic disorder caused by a deletion on chromosome 7q11.23 and associated with increased prevalence of anxiety disorders relative to the general population and other genetic disorders associated with intellectual disability, can be used in the search for susceptibility genes for anxiety disorders. This study examines the prevalence of anxiety disorders in children with WS, their mothers, and their siblings as well as predictors of anxiety in these groups, in order to facilitate the use of WS in studies of genetics of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders were assessed in 109 children with WS ages 4-16 years, 106 mothers, and 72 siblings in the same age range. Prevalence was compared to that in the general population. Children with WS had a significantly higher prevalence of specific phobia, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and separation anxiety in comparison to children in the general population. The mothers had a significantly higher prevalence of GAD than women in the general population, but the prevalence rate for GAD in this group prior to the birth of the child with WS was comparable to that for women in the general population. The siblings had a significantly higher prevalence of specific phobia in comparison to children in the general population, but it was similar to the rates reported in other studies of specific phobia in typically developing children. The odds of a child with WS having an anxiety disorder increased with age and the severity of maternal anxiety. The odds of mothers having an anxiety disorder increased if the mother was not employed outside of home and if the child with WS was a male. The elevated prevalence rates of anxiety disorders in children with WS suggest a connection between the deletion found in WS and anxiety disorders. Given the increased prevalence of anxiety disorders in children with WS, genetic studies examining possible links between particular gene(s) deleted in WS and anxiety are warranted. It would also be worthwhile to investigate relations between genes deleted in WS and genes previously implicated in anxiety disorders.
Leyfer, Ovsanna, "Anxiety disorders in children with Williams syndrome, their mothers, and their siblings : implications for the etiology of anxiety disorders." (2007). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 821.