Chapter 7 Biomarkers in the Study of Families of Children with Developmental Disabilities

Marsha Mailick Seltzer, Leonard Abbeduto, Jan S. Greenberg, David Almeida, Jinkuk Hong, Whitney Witt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


Research during the past 20 years on families of children with developmental disabilities (DD) has yielded a rich body of knowledge about the risk and protective factors that result in profiles of family resilience versus vulnerability at various stages of the family life course. Virtually all of this research has been based on data collected from self-report or observational measures, and has examined family interactions, family relationships, and the psychosocial well-being of individual family members. The present chapter focuses on different sources of data, namely biomarkers, which have the potential to expand our understanding of the biological mechanisms by which the stress of parenting a child with developmental disabilities can take its toll on parents' physical and mental health. We focus on two examples: (1) variations in the FMR1 gene, FMRP, and FMR1 messenger RNA in mothers of children with fragile X syndrome and the association of these measures with maternal depression and anxiety and (2) profiles of cortisol in mothers of children with disabilities and the association of cortisol with daily measures of caregiving stress. These biomarkers extend past behavioral and psychosocial measures of family adaptations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-249
Number of pages37
JournalInternational Review of Research in Mental Retardation
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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