Center for Psychosocial… Department of Child and… Research Current research…

Early risk factors of BPD

Section of Translational Psychobiology in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry / Section for Experimental Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Study title

Early risk factors of borderline personality pathology - Follow-up of two longitudinal cohorts to identify risk and resilience factors of borderline symptom manifestations in childhood and early adolescence

Project description

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by impulsive behavior, instability in interpersonal relationships and difficulties in regulating intense emotions. Only recently, research in the field of personality disorders has also started to focus on childhood and adolescence and has shown that precursors can be identified early in child development. However, to date, there are few long-term studies that have consistently investigated early BPD symptom manifestations during childhood and adolescence, in connection with possible predictors from early childhood, such as prenatal stress, the child's temperament, and the mother-child relationship. To fill this research gap, the project relies on the follow-up of two mother-child cohorts from the community of the Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, which were recruited in 2002 and 2008 respectively and from which data on maternal stress as well as information on early childhood temperament and behavior are available. In the course of the current follow-up assessment, BPD symptoms of the children and adolescents will be systematically assessed in a dimensional approach. At the same time, possible correlates and precursor symptoms of BPD, such as behavioral difficulties, temperament and risk behaviors will be investigated and the current quality of mother-child interaction will be analyzed. Additionally, physiological and endocrinological markers of emotion and stress regulation (heart rate variability, cortisol) are measured in the context of mother-child interaction. The aim of the project is to investigate the early developmental pathways of BPD pathology in greater detail. It therefore contributes to the extension of the developmental model of BPD, which considers the interaction of child characteristics and external risk factors and can provide approaches for early prevention and intervention.


Cooperation Partner

  • Prof. Dr. med. Eva Möhler, Chefärztin SHG-Klinik Kleinblittersdorf
  • Prof. Dr. phil. Corinna Reck, Leitung der Lehr- und Forschungseinheit Klinische Psychologie des Kinder- und Jugendalters, LMU München

Head of Research project

Project Coordinator


  • M. Sc. Psych. Leonie Fleck
  • Dr. sc. hum. Julian Koenig
  • Dipl.-Psych. Peter Parzer  

Funding / Sponsorship

Dietmar Hopp Foundation

Project duration

2016 – 2019