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Child Development Research
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 290862, 8 pages
Research Article

Moderation of Breastfeeding Effects on Adult Depression by Estrogen Receptor Gene Polymorphism

1Unit of Personality, Work, and Health Psychology, IBS, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 9, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3Laboratory of Atherosclerosis Genetics, Department of Clinical Chemistry, Centre for Laboratory Medicine, Tampere University Hospital, P.O. Box 66, 33101 Tampere, Finland
4The School of Medicine, University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland
5Department of Medicine, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, 20520 Turku, Finland
6Department of Clinical Physiology, Turku University Hospital and Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, P.O. Box 52, 20521 Turku, Finland
7Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Received 4 April 2012; Accepted 2 October 2012

Academic Editor: Masha Gartstein

Copyright © 2012 Päivi Merjonen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Breastfeeding is known to benefit both the mother’s and the child’s health. Our aim was to test the interactive effects between estrogen receptor 1 (ESR1) rs2234693 and breastfeeding when predicting the child’s later depression in adulthood. A sample of 1209 boys and girls from the Young Finns Study were followed from childhood over 27 years up to age 30–45 years. Adulthood depressive symptoms were self-reported by the participants using the Beck Depression Inventory. Breastfeeding as well as several possibly confounding factors was reported by the parents in childhood or adolescence. Breastfeeding tended to predict lower adult depression, while ESR1 rs2234693 was not associated with depression. A significant interaction between breastfeeding and ESR1 was found to predict participants’ depression ( ) so that C/C genotype carriers who had not been breastfed had higher risk of depression than T-allele carriers (40.5% versus 13.0%) while there were no genotypic differences among those who had been breastfed. In sex-specific analysis, this interaction was evident only among women. We conclude that child’s genes and maternal behavior may interact in the development of child’s adult depression so that breastfeeding may buffer the inherited depression risk possibly associated with the C/C genotype of the ESR1 gene.