Early Growth and Development Studies

The premise of the Early Growth and Development Study (EGADS) is based on increasing evidence that genetic and social influences are intricately intertwined in early development. EGADS is an adoption study in which the child is genetically unrelated to the adopting parents. This research design allows one to disentangle the distinct influences of genetic and social factors and to delineate the mechanisms by which these two sets of influences may combine. The sample includes 561 "yoked family" adoptive units each consisting of the birth parents, an infant adopted at birth, and the non-related adoptive parents followed from the child’s birth until age 2. Birth parents were assessed for their psychopathology, their competencies and for intrauterine risk shortly after the child's birth and when the children are 18 months. In addition, data are available about prenatal risk, including drug exposure, and genetic data on participating children.

Adopted children have been assessed for behavioral, cognitive, and social characteristics from infancy through age 9, with ongoing assessments for the first of the two cohorts (361 and 200 in size, respectively) at age 10. To date, the study has provided a plethora of findings demonstrating the importance of environmental factors and gene x environment interactions on children’s early development. This study is the first of its kind to examine such issues and general adoption issues such as openness.