Sensory overresponsivity: Prenatal risk factors and temperamental contributions

Megan M. Keuler, Nicole L. Schmidt, Carol A. Van Hulle, Kathryn Lemery, H. Hill Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: The study addresses risk factors and cause of pediatric sensory over-responsivity (SOR) in a large sample of twins. At age 2 years, (a) the association of temperamental traits with concurrent SOR; (b) the association of prenatal complications with SOR; (c) the association of having a male cotwin with female SOR; and (d) the common and unique genetic causes of temperament and SOR symptoms are examined. Methods: The sample included 1026 twin pairs (mean age = 2 years 2 months) from a population-based longitudinal study. Auditory and tactile SOR symptom domains were partially independent and thus were examined separately. Results: Temperamental negative affect and fear were moderately correlated with auditory and tactile SOR symptoms. Prenatal complications significantly predicted tactile symptoms after controlling for child characteristics. In addition, females with a male cotwin showed greater SOR at age 2 years than same-sex female dizygotic twins, suggesting a possible risk associated with in utero testosterone exposure. Both auditory and tactile SOR domains were heritable. Bivariate genetic analyses showed that each SOR domain had a similar genetic relationship with fear and negative affect. Conclusion: The findings suggest partially nonoverlapping causes and risk factors for tactile versus auditory SOR and indicate that prenatal factors warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-541
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • prenatal complications
  • sensory over-responsivity
  • temperament
  • testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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