Early Growth and Development Study: Phase II

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

A nationwide study on understanding the relationship between heredity, the prenatal environment, and family environment in child development.

Project Overview

The Early Growth and Development Study – Phase II (EGDS-II) is a nationwide, prospective adoption study conducted by the Pennsylvania State University. Oregon Social Learning Center and George Washington University were subcontracted to assist with data collection. EGDS-II builds on important developments in understanding the relationship between heredity, prenatal influences, and family environment in child development. Traditional thinking was that nature or nurture influences a child’s development. More recent research shows that nature and nurture are closely connected and both, together, may influence the same area of a child’s development. In order for us to know how children’s behavior is influenced by their heredity, by their prenatal environment, and by their family relationships, and how these influences are interconnected, we need to study families where the child is not raised by anyone from their biological family. The best way to do this is to study children who have been placed for adoption and their adoptive and birth families. Our study is the first of its kind to simultaneously study the adoption process and the influence of heredity, the prenatal environment, and family environment on children’s psychosocial development. The EGDS-II sample included 200 adoptive families, adopted children, and the birth parents of these children. Over a 3-year period, each birth parent was visited twice, and each adoptive family was visited thrice. Our assessments also included brief telephone check-ins and questionnaires for the birth parents and the adoptive parents. The EGDS-II sample was added to the previously collected EGDS sample of 361 adoptive families and birth parents to provide the largest US sample of adopted and birth families to date.

Year Project Began: 2007
Funder: National Institute of Mental Health

Principal Investigator

Leslie Leve, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Leve’s research is focused on the translation of basic research to inform preventive interventions. She leads research grants from NIDA, NIMH, and NICHD that focus on developmental pathways and intervention outcomes for at-risk youth and families. This includes preventive intervention studies with youth in foster care and with adolescents in the juvenile justice system aimed at preventing risk behaviors and improving public health outcomes, as well as adoption studies that examine the interplay between biological (genetic, hormonal), psychological, and social influences on development. Her published work in the area of gene-environment interplay emphasizes the translation of basic research findings to help refine the selection of malleable environmental targets in the context of prevention and intervention studies. She is also interested in issues specific to adjustment and outcomes for girls and women. Dr. Leve is a Professor of Counseling Psychology and Human Services in the College of Education and a Research Scientist at the Prevention Science Institute at the University of Oregon. She is the recipient of the 2011 Society for Prevention Research Prevention Science Award and is a member of the Society for Prevention Research Board of Directors. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1995.