Where Do Epigenetics and Developmental Origins Take the Field of Developmental Psychopathology?

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19 Scopus citations


The time is ripe for upgrading or rethinking the assumed paradigms for how we study developmental psychopathology. The classic transactional models appear robust but need specification in terms of biological and psychosocial processes. That specification is increasingly tractable due to developments in genetics, epigenetics, the measurement of psychosocial processes, and theory and data on developmental origins of health and disease. This essay offers a high-level view of where the field has been and where it may be going in regard to nosology and conceptions of etiology. Remarks seek to consider rapidly evolving contexts not only for children, but also for the science itself due to progress in our field and in neighboring fields. Illustrations are provided as to how syndromal nosology can be enriched and advanced by careful integration with biologically relevant behavioral dimensions and application of quantitative methods. It is concluded that a revised, forward-looking, transactional model of abnormal child psychology will incorporate prenatal and postnatal developmental programming, epigenetic mechanisms and their associated genotype x environment interactions, and inflammatory processes as a potential common mediator influencing numerous health and mental health conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-419
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Developmental origins
  • Epigenetics
  • Etiology
  • Nosology
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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