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Professor Christel Middeldorp
May 11, 2021

Observational studies have reported associations between parenting behaviours and offspring mental health. However, as parents provide not only the rearing environment but also transmit 50% of their genes to their offspring, the question whether parenting is causally related to offspring mental health is not easy to answer.

The application of genetically informative designs is crucial to disentangle the role of genetic and environmental factors (as well as gene–environment correlation) underlying these observations.

I will first present the results of a review of these studies. Next, I will discuss why, despite the role of genetic factors in explaining these associations, evidence based parenting programs are still effective in the treatment of mental health symptoms in children and should be accessible to all families who could benefit.

Christel Middeldorp

About the presenter

Professor Christel Middeldorp is professor of child & youth psychiatry, in a conjoint position with The University of Queensland and Children’s Health Queensland.


In her research she aims to improve the identification of children with mental disorders that are most at risk for poor outcomes and to develop treatment targeted to this group. To that end, she has established a clinical cohort of families with children referred for neurodevelopmental disorders and leads a clinical trial investigating whether addressing parental mental health in the framework of the enhanced Stepping Stones Triple P Program is of benefit for the child. 


In 2019, Christel was appointed by the federal government as Co-Chair of the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy Working Party. In 2017, she received the international scholar award from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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