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Studies have indicated that the association of urbanicity at birth and during upbringing with schizophrenia may be driven by familial factors such as genetic liability. We used a population-based nested case–control study to assess whether polygenic risk score (PRS) for schizophrenia was associated with urbanicity at birth and at age 15, and to assess whether PRS and parental history of mental disorder together explained the association between urbanicity and schizophrenia.
Data were drawn from Danish population registries. Cases born since 1981 and diagnosed with schizophrenia between 1994 and 2009 were matched to controls with the same sex and birthdate (1549 pairs). Genome-wide data were obtained from the Danish Neonatal Screening Biobank and PRSs were calculated based on results of a separate, large meta-analysis.
Those with higher PRS were more likely reside in the capital compared with rural areas at age 15 [odds ratio (OR) 1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.40], but not at birth (OR 1.09, 95% CI 0.95–1.26). Adjustment for PRS produced almost no change in relative risks of schizophrenia associated with urbanicity at birth, but slightly attenuated those for urban residence at age 15. Additional adjustment for parental history led to slight attenuation of relative risks for urbanicity at birth [incidence rate ratio (IRR) for birth in capital = 1.54, 95% CI 1.18–2.02; overall p = 0.016] and further attenuation of relative risks for urbanicity at age 15 (IRR for residence in capital = 1.32, 95% CI 0.97–1.78; overall p = 0.148).
While results regarding urbanicity during upbringing were somewhat equivocal, genetic liability as measured here does not appear to explain the association between urbanicity at birth and schizophrenia.
Depression is known to run in families, but the effects of parental history of other psychiatric diagnoses on depression rates are less well studied. Few studies have examined the impact of parental psychopathology on depression rates in older age groups.
We established a population-based cohort including all individuals born in Denmark after 1954 and alive on their 10th birthday (N = 29 76 264). Exposure variables were maternal and paternal history of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety or ‘other’ psychiatric diagnoses. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were estimated using Poisson regressions.
Parental history of any psychiatric diagnosis increased incidence rates of outpatient (maternal: IRR 1.88, p < 0.0001; paternal: IRR 1.68, p < 0.0001) and inpatient (maternal: IRR 1.99, p < 0.0001; paternal: IRR 1.83, p < 0.0001) depression relative to no parental history. IRRs for parental history of non-affective disorders remained relatively stable across age groups, while IRRs for parental affective disorders (unipolar or bipolar) decreased with age from 2.29–3.96 in the youngest age group to 1.53–1.90 in the oldest group. IRR estimates for all parental diagnoses were similar among individuals aged ⩾41 years (IRR range 1.51–1.90).
Parental history of any psychiatric diagnosis is associated with increased incidence rates of unipolar depression. In younger age groups, parental history of affective diagnoses is more strongly associated with rates of unipolar depression than non-affective diagnoses; however, this distinction disappears after age 40, suggesting that parental psychopathology in general, rather than any one disorder, confers risk for depression in middle life.
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