The proper establishment of the mother-infant relationship is considered essential for the social and psychological well-being in adulthood. Allied to this factor, recent studies have suggested that maternal genetic susceptibility may be associated with different patterns of establishment of emotional bonds between mother and baby, with studies of this nature acquiring great importance. Evidence suggests that the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), and some of its polymorphisms in particular are associated with a number of social behaviors in humans, including aspects related to parental care, maternal behavior and emotional attachment. In this context, the objective of this study is to investigate possible association between genetic and environmental factors in the etiology of disorders in the mother-infant relationship. This was longitudinal study of the prospective cohort kind, in which data were obtained about mothers belonging to a cohort initiated in the 5th prenatal month (from 25 to 28 weeks) in the city of Ribeirão Preto, State of São Paulo, Brazil, and about the birth and the second year of their babies. Data sampling was planned to occur in three stages: prenatal (concluded), at birth (concluded) and from the second year of life (ongoing). In the prenatal stage, 1370 mothers were interviewed, and information was collected about socio-demographic data, maternal health status, characteristics of pregnancy, stress, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, social support network, as well as venous blood. At the birth of the babies, all 1370 mothers were re-interviewed in the maternity and the conditions of childbirth and delivery were obtained. In the stage of baby follow-up (in progress), that is, from the second year of life, all mothers are being invited to participate in the survey again, with 1004 mothers and their children having been assessed to date (May/2013). The following information is being collected: child health and nutrition, health and lifestyle habits of the mother, socio-demographic factors and application of the mother-infant relationship questionnaire. In the genetic analysis, the genotypic and allelic frequencies are obtained by simply counting the groups studied. These frequencies will be compared between groups by the Chi-square and/or Fisher exact test, with the level of significance set at p <0.05. The analysis of polymorphisms will be performed by Real Time PCR using the TaqMan allelic discrimination mode and frequency of haplotypes is estimated using SAS / Genetics. Univariate and multiple logistic regression analyses will be performed to estimate associations between the dependent variable (mother-infant relationship) and genetic and environmental factors (independent variables), with a 95% confidence interval. In this scenario, we highlight the importance of multidisciplinary studies focusing on the individual and molecular level, associated with psychosocial outcomes relevant to the socio-emotional development of children. Since such studies in humans are still extremely scarce and recent, it is believed that the development of this project will contribute to a better understanding of the process of forming emotional bonds established in childhood. Accordingly, the diagnosis and treatment of possible disturbances in the mother-infant relationship may occur earlier and be more effective, decreasing the negative implications of this condition in the mother-child pair. In terms of public policy, it will be possible to propose measures for monitoring, prevention and psychological support, especially if the influence of genetic factors as possible determinants of disturbances in the mother-infant relationships is detected.
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