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Probands with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at increased risk for several psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders. The risk of these disorders among the siblings of probands has not been thoroughly assessed in a population-based cohort.
Every child born in Finland in 1991–2005 and diagnosed with ADHD in 1995–2011 were identified from national registers. Each case was matched with four controls on sex, place, and date of birth. The full siblings of the cases and controls were born in 1981–2007 and diagnosed in 1981–2013. In total, 7369 cases with 12 565 siblings and 23 181 controls with 42 753 siblings were included in the analyses conducted using generalized estimating equations.
44.2% of the cases and 22.2% of the controls had at least one sibling diagnosed with any psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorder (risk ratio, RR = 2.1; 95% CI 2.0–2.2). The strongest associations were demonstrated for childhood-onset disorders including ADHD (RR = 5.7; 95% CI 5.1–6.3), conduct and oppositional disorders (RR = 4.0; 95% CI 3.5–4.5), autism spectrum disorders (RR = 3.9; 95% CI 3.3–4.6), other emotional and social interaction disorders (RR = 2.7; 95% CI 2.4–3.1), learning and coordination disorders (RR = 2.6; 95% CI 2.4–2.8), and intellectual disability (RR = 2.4; 95% CI 2.0–2.8). Also, bipolar disorder, unipolar mood disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, other neurotic and personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, and anxiety disorders occurred at increased frequency among the siblings of cases.
The results offer potential utility for early identification of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders in at-risk siblings of ADHD probands and also argue for more studies on common etiologies.
Previous studies have documented associations between mental and physical health problems in cross-sectional studies, yet little is known about these relationships over time or the specificity of these associations. The aim of the current study was to examine the relationship between mental health problems in childhood at age 8 years and physical disorders in adulthood at ages 18–23 years.
Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to examine the relationship between childhood mental health problems, reported by child, parent and teacher, and physical disorders diagnosed by a physician in early adulthood.
Significant linkages emerged between childhood mental health problems and obesity, atopic eczema, epilepsy and asthma in early adulthood. Specifically, conduct problems in childhood were associated with a significantly increased likelihood of obesity and atopic eczema; emotional problems were associated with an increased likelihood of epilepsy and asthma; and depression symptoms at age 8 were associated with an increased risk of asthma in early adulthood.
Our findings provide the first evidence of an association between mental health problems during childhood and increased risk of specific physical health problems, mainly asthma and obesity, during early adulthood, in a representative sample of males over time. These data suggest that behavioral and emotional problems in childhood may signal vulnerability to chronic physical health problems during early adulthood.