Although growth in head circumference (HC) during infancy is known to predict later childhood outcomes, the mechanisms underlying this association with later sociocognitive abilities remain undetermined. Thus, using a sample of 241 pairs of normally developing Japanese twins, this study investigated the underpinnings of the association between HC growth (difference between HC at birth and at 10months) and sociocognitive abilities at 19months as measured by 10 items from the M-CHAT. Phenotypic correlations between HC at birth and sociocognitive abilities and between HC growth and sociocognitive abilities were marginal and not significant. However, multivariate genetic analyses using Cholesky decomposition revealed that genetic influences on HC growth and those on sociocognitive abilities were negatively associated. On the other hand, shared and nonshared environmental influences on HC growth were positively associated with influences on sociocognitive abilities. Genetic and environmental influences on HC at birth were not significantly associated with influences on sociocognitive abilities. These results help to clarify the role of brain growth during infancy in the subsequent development of sociocognitive abilities and highlight the importance of examining the different roles of genetic and environmental influences in studies of these areas.
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