De Francesco, S., Scaini, S., Alessandri, G., Medda, E., Camoni, L., Stazi, M. A., & Fagnani, C. (2023). Age-Related Variations of Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Covariation of Fear, Distress and Externalizing Symptoms: A Twin Study in Childhood and Adolescence. – Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 1-13.


The frequency with which Internalizing and Externalizing symptoms co-occur suggests that, behind both domains, there may be a common susceptibility represented by a general psychopathology factor. However, it’s still unclear whether this common susceptibility is affected by age-related variations. Internalizing (i.e., Fear and Distress) and Externalizing symptoms were evaluated in 803 twin pairs from the population-based Italian Twin Registry. Model-fitting analysis was performed separately in the 6–14 and 15–18 age groups to estimate genetic and environmental contributions to the covariance among symptoms. For the 6–14 group, a multivariate Cholesky model best fitted the data, while, for the 15–18 group, the best fit was provided by a Common Pathway model in which nearly 50% of total variance of each trait was mediated by common genetic factors. Our findings support a common susceptibility behind Internalizing and Externalizing symptoms, mainly genetic in origin, that becomes more evident at the beginning of puberty.