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Psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) and juvenile mania in adolescence index risk for severe psychopathology in adulthood. The importance of childhood problems with communication, reading, speech and mathematics for the development of PLEs and juvenile mania is not well understood.
Through the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden, we identified 5812 children. The parents were interviewed about their children's development at age 9 or 12 years. At age 15 or 18 years, children and parents completed questionnaires targeting current PLEs and juvenile mania symptoms. Logistic regressions were used to assess associations between problems with communication, reading, speech and mathematics and PLEs/juvenile mania symptoms. To evaluate the relative importance of genes and environment in these associations, we used bivariate twin analyses based on structural equation models.
Children with parent-endorsed childhood problems with communication, reading and mathematics had an increased risk of developing auditory hallucinations and parental-reported juvenile mania symptoms in adolescence. The most consistent finding was that children with childhood problems with communication, reading and mathematics had an increased risk of developing auditory hallucinations [for example, the risk for self-reported auditory hallucinations at age 15 was increased by 96% for children with communication problems: OR (odds ratio) 1.96, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.33–2.88]. The twin analyses showed that genetic effects accounted for the increased risk of PLEs and juvenile mania symptoms among children with communication problems.
Childhood problems with communication, reading and mathematics predict PLEs and juvenile mania symptoms in adolescence. Similar to the case for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, PLEs and juvenile mania may share genetic aetiological factors.
Autistic-like traits (ALTs), that is restrictions in intuitive social interaction, communication and flexibility of interests and behaviors, were studied in two population-based Swedish twin studies, one in children and one in adults: (1) to examine whether the variability in ALTs is a meaningful risk factor for concomitant attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, conduct problems, depression and substance abuse, and (2) to assess whether common genetic and environmental susceptibilities can help to explain co-existence of ALTs and traits associated with such concomitant problems.
Two nationwide twin cohorts from Sweden (consisting of 11 222 children and 18 349 adults) were assessed by DSM-based symptom algorithms for autism. The twins were divided into six groups based on their degree of ALTs and the risk for concomitant mental health problems was calculated for each group. Genetic and environmental susceptibilities common to ALTs and the other problem types were examined using bivariate twin modeling.
In both cohorts, even the lowest degree of ALTs increased the risk for all other types of mental health problems, and these risk estimates increased monotonically with the number of ALTs. For all conditions, common genetic and environmental factors could be discerned. Overall, the phenotypic correlation between ALTs and the traits examined were less pronounced in adulthood than in childhood and less affected by genetic compared with environmental factors.
Even low-grade ALTs are relevant to clinical psychiatry as they increase the risk for several heterotypical mental health problems. The association is influenced partly by common genetic and environmental susceptibilities. Attention to co-existing ALTs is warranted in research on a wide range of mental disorders.
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