Early Growth and Development Study (EGDS)

The Early Growth & Development Study (EGDS) is a nationwide, prospective study of birth parents and adoptive families aimed at investigating how families can help their children develop to their fullest potential. Our study builds on emerging evidence about the relationship between heredity and the family environment—that is, nature and nurture—and how the two work together and separately in child development. This study is the first of its kind to examine such issues and general adoption issues such as openness. EGDS-School follows the original sample of children with a focus on school readiness and executive functioning (basic abilities such as memory and attention). EGDS-Phase 2 examines the influences of the prenatal environment, the family environment, and heredity on child development. EGDS-NIMH examines pathways to the development of early emerging emotional and behavioral symptoms and to later psychiatric symptoms in middle childhood. The fourth and most recent phase is EGDS-Health which focuses on the eating habits and behaviors of adoptive parents, their children, and of birth parents, examining family dietary habits, food preferences, physical activities, and child growth patterns from birth to middle childhood.

Study Investigators:

Jenae Neiderhiser – Penn State University
Leslie Leve – University of Oregon
David Reiss - Yale University
Misaki Natsuaki – University of California, Riverside
Jody Ganiban – The George Washington University
Daniel Shaw - The University of Pittsburgh

Check us out on Facebook @EarlyGrowthandDevelopmentStudy and Twitter @egdstudy!

EGDS - Adolescence

The proposed research will clarify how heritable risks and prenatal and postnatal environments work together with hormonal changes to influence the development of risk for early substance use (SU) and related problems in adolescence.  We are collecting new data from both EGDS cohorts into adolescence on SU milestones, behavioral risk for SU, and pubertal development. We will use existing and newly collected data to:

(1) estimate the unique contributions of heritable risk, prenatal exposure, and postnatal environmental influences on trajectories of child behaviors from infancy to adolescence that increase risk for SU

(2) examine the mediating role of prenatal exposures for transmitting heritable influences on trajectories of behavioral risk for SU;

(3) examine the mediating role of pubertal development for transmitting heritable, prenatal and postnatal environmental influences on trajectories of behavioral risk for SU; and

(4) examine moderation of early and biological influences by postnatal rearing environment (GxE, prenatal environment x E, endocrine development x E) to elucidate the possible interactions among genetic, prenatal, hormone, and postnatal environment in influencing child risk behaviors.

This study will help to advance knowledge of the development of adolescent SU, will help clarify which children are at greatest risk for developing SU and related behaviors early in adolescence, and to indicate which influences are most salient for SU development given multiple other influences. The prospective, longitudinal, genetically-informed investigation using the EGDS sample is uniquely poised to achieve these aims, which are critical for gaining a more precise understanding of factors influencing the developmental course of SU that can be used to improve prevention efforts. 

Study Investigators:

Jenae Neiderhiser – Penn State University
Leslie Leve – University of Oregon
Kristine Marceau - Purdue University
Elizabeth Shirtcliff - Iowa State University