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Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) are associated with experiences of victimization, but mechanisms remain unclear. We explored sex differences and the role of familial factors and externalizing problems in the association between several NDs and violent victimization in adolescence and young adulthood.
Individuals born in Sweden 1985–1997, residing in Sweden at their 15th birthday, were followed until date of violent victimization causing a hospital visit or death, death due to other causes, emigration, or December 31, 2013, whichever came first. The exposures were diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability (ID) and other NDs. We used three different Cox regression models: a crude model, a model adjusted for familial confounding using sibling-comparisons, and a model additionally adjusted for externalizing problems.
Among 1 344 944 individuals followed, on average, for 5 years, 74 487 were diagnosed with NDs and 37 765 had a hospital visit or died due to violence. ADHD was associated with an increased risk of violent victimization in males [hazard ratio (HR) 2.56; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.43–2.70) and females (HR 5.39; 95% CI 4.97–5.85). ASD and ID were associated with an increased risk of violent victimization in females only. After adjusting for familial factors and externalizing problems, only ADHD was associated with violent victimization among males (HR 1.27; 95% CI 1.06–1.51) and females (HR 1.69; 95% CI 1.21–2.36).
Females with NDs and males with ADHD are at greater risk of being victim of severe violence during adolescence and young adulthood. Relevant mechanisms include shared familial liability and externalizing problems. ADHD may be independently associated with violent victimization.
Familial co-aggregation studies of eating disorders (EDs) and schizophrenia reveal shared genetic and environment factors, yet their etiological and clinical relationship remains unclear. We evaluate the influence of schizophrenia family history on clinical outcomes of EDs.
We conducted a cohort evaluation of the association between family history of schizophrenia and ED clinical features, psychiatric comorbidities, and somatic and mental health burden in individuals born in Sweden 1977–2003 with anorexia nervosa (AN) or other EDs (OED: bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, and ED not otherwise specified).
Of 12 424 individuals with AN and 20 716 individuals with OED, 599 (4.8%) and 1118 (5.4%), respectively, had a family history of schizophrenia (in up to third-degree relatives). Among individuals with AN, schizophrenia in first-degree relatives was significantly associated with increased comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [HR(95% CI) 2.26 (1.27–3.99)], substance abuse disorder (SUD) [HR (95% CI) 1.93 (1.25–2.98)], and anxiety disorders [HR (95% CI) 1.47 (1.08–2.01)], but higher lowest illness-associated body mass index (BMI) [1.14 kg/m2, 95% CI (0.19–2.10)]. Schizophrenia in any relative (up to third-degree) in AN was significantly associated with higher somatic and mental health burden, but lower ED psychopathology scores [−0.29, 95% CI (−0.54 to −0.04)]. Schizophrenia in first-degree relatives in individuals with OED was significantly associated with increased comorbid ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, SUD, anxiety disorders, somatic and mental health burden, and suicide attempts.
We observed different patterns of ED-related outcomes, psychiatric comorbidity, and illness burden in individuals with EDs with and without family histories of schizophrenia and provide new insights into the diverse manifestations of EDs.
Previous research indicates that body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is associated with risk of suicidality. However, studies have relied on small and/or specialist samples and largely focussed on adults, despite these difficulties commonly emerging in youth. Furthermore, the aetiology of the relationship remains unknown.
Two independent twin samples were identified through the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden, at ages 18 (N = 6027) and 24 (N = 3454). Participants completed a self-report measure of BDD symptom severity. Young people and parents completed items assessing suicidal ideation/behaviours. Logistic regression models tested the association of suicidality outcomes with: (a) probable BDD, classified using an empirically derived cut-off; and (b) continuous scores of BDD symptoms. Bivariate genetic models examined the aetiology of the association between BDD symptoms and suicidality at both ages.
Suicidal ideation and behaviours were common among those with probable BDD at both ages. BDD symptoms, measured continuously, were linked with all aspects of suicidality, and associations generally remained significant after adjusting for depressive and anxiety symptoms. Genetic factors accounted for most of the covariance between BDD symptoms and suicidality (72.9 and 77.7% at ages 18 and 24, respectively), but with significant non-shared environmental influences (27.1 and 22.3% at ages 18 and 24, respectively).
BDD symptoms are associated with a substantial risk of suicidal ideation and behaviours in late adolescence and early adulthood. This relationship is largely explained by common genetic liability, but non-shared environmental effects are also significant and could provide opportunities for prevention among those at high-risk.
Although attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder in the latest diagnostic manuals, it shows phenotypic and genetic associations of similar magnitudes across neurodevelopmental, externalising and internalising disorders.
To investigate if ADHD is aetiologically more closely related to neurodevelopmental than externalising or internalising disorder clusters, after accounting for a general psychopathology factor.
Full and maternal half-sibling pairs (N = 774 416), born between 1980 and 1995, were identified from the Swedish Medical Birth and Multi-Generation Registers, and ICD diagnoses were obtained from the Swedish National Patient Register. A higher-order confirmatory factor analytic model was fitted to examine associations between ADHD and a general psychopathology factor, as well as a neurodevelopmental, externalising and internalising subfactor. Quantitative genetic modelling was performed to estimate the extent to which genetic, shared and non-shared environmental effects influenced the associations with ADHD.
ADHD was significantly and strongly associated with all three factors (r = 0.67–0.75). However, after controlling for a general psychopathology factor, only the association between ADHD and the neurodevelopmental-specific factor remained moderately strong (r = 0.43, 95% CI = 0.42–0.45) and was almost entirely influenced by genetic effects. In contrast, the association between ADHD and the externalising-specific factor was smaller (r = 0.25, 95% CI = 0.24–0.27), and largely influenced by non-shared environmental effects. There remained no internalising-specific factor after accounting for a general factor.
Findings suggest that ADHD comorbidity is largely explained by genetically influenced general psychopathology, but the strong link between ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders is also substantially driven by unique genetic influences.
Genetically informed studies have provided mixed findings as to what extent parental substance misuse is associated with offspring substance misuse and antisocial behavior due to shared environmental and genetic factors.
We linked data from nationwide registries for a cohort of 2 476 198 offspring born in Sweden 1958–1995 and their parents. Substance misuse was defined as International Classification of Diseases diagnoses of alcohol/drug use disorders or alcohol/drug-related criminal convictions. Quantitative genetic offspring-of-siblings analyses in offspring of monozygotic and dizygotic twin, full-sibling, and half-sibling parents were conducted.
Both maternal and paternal substance misuse were robustly associated with offspring substance misuse [maternal adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 1.83 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.80–1.87); paternal aHR = 1.96 (1.94–1.98)] and criminal convictions [maternal aHR = 1.56 (1.54–1.58); paternal aHR = 1.66 (1.64–1.67)]. Additive genetic effects explained 42% (95% CI 25–56%) and 46% (36–55%) of the variance in maternal and paternal substance misuse, respectively, and between 36 and 44% of the variance in substance misuse and criminality in offspring. The associations between parental substance misuse and offspring outcomes were mostly due to additive genetic effects, which explained 54–85% of the parent-offspring covariance. However, both nuclear and extended family environmental factors also contributed to the associations, especially with offspring substance misuse.
Our findings from a large offspring-of-siblings study indicate that shared genetic influences mostly explain the associations between parental substance misuse and both offspring substance misuse and criminality, but we also found evidence for the contribution of environmental factors shared by members of nuclear and extended families.
Many psychiatric disorders show gender differences in prevalence. Recent studies suggest that female patients diagnosed with anxiety and depression carry more genetic risks related to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) compared with affected males.
In this register-based study, we aimed to test whether female patients who received clinical diagnoses of anxiety, depressive, bipolar and eating disorders are at higher familial risk for ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, compared with diagnosed male patients.
We analysed data from a record-linkage of several Swedish national registers, including 151 025 sibling pairs from 103 941 unique index individuals diagnosed with anxiety, depressive, bipolar or eating disorders, as well as data from 646 948 cousin pairs. We compared the likelihood of having a relative diagnosed with ADHD/neurodevelopmental disorders in index males and females.
Female patients with anxiety disorders were more likely than affected males to have a brother with ADHD (odd ratio (OR) = 1.13, 95% CI 1.05–1.22). Results for broader neurodevelopmental disorders were similar and were driven by ADHD diagnoses. Follow-up analyses revealed similar point estimates for several categories of anxiety disorders, with the strongest effect observed for agoraphobia (OR = 1.64, 95% CI 1.12–2.39). No significant associations were found in individuals with depressive, bipolar or eating disorders, or in cousins.
These results provide modest support for the possibility that familial/genetic risks for ADHD may show gender-specific phenotypic expression. Alternatively, there could be gender-specific biases in diagnoses of anxiety and ADHD. These factors could play a small role in the observed gender differences in prevalence of ADHD and anxiety.
Quantitative genetic research includes a range of genetically sensitive research designs that rely on family samples to study the relative importance of genes and environments for individual difference in psychopathology. The past decades have seen an increase in quantitative genetic research focused on the origins of childhood and adolescent psychopathology. Evidence from this research univocally demonstrates that genetic factors play an important role in all forms of psychopathology, and that these genetic factors interact with the environment to shape the development of childhood and adolescent psychopathology. The goal of this chapter is to highlight how recent methodological developments and the accumulation of longitudinal data now allow quantitative genetic research to go beyond asking “if” genetic factors are important, to instead address important questions regarding gene-environment interplay in the development of childhood and adolescent psychopathology. It begins by introducing the family, adoption, and twin designs, and summarizing the main findings from these methods for child and adolescent psychopathology. It then provides concrete examples of how multivariate and longitudinal quantitative genetic research designs can be used to address important questions regarding etiology across different levels of symptom severity, comorbidity, and development, and to study gene-environment interplay in child and adolescent psychopathology. It concludes by highlighting important outstanding questions in childhood psychopathology that need to be addressed in future quantitative genetic research.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) has been linked to academic underachievement, but previous studies had methodological limitations. We investigated the association between SAD and objective indicators of educational performance, controlling for a number of covariates and unmeasured confounders shared between siblings.
This population-based birth cohort study included 2 238 837 individuals born in Sweden between 1973 and 1997, followed-up until 2013. Within the cohort, 15 755 individuals had a recorded ICD-10 diagnosis of SAD in the Swedish National Patient Register. Logistic regression models tested the association between SAD and educational performance. We also identified 6488 families with full siblings discordant for SAD.
Compared to unexposed individuals, individuals diagnosed with SAD were less likely to pass all subjects in the last year of compulsory education [adjusted odds ratios (aOR) ranging from 0.19 to 0.44] and less likely to be eligible for a vocational or academic programme in upper secondary education [aOR = 0.31 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.30–0.33) and aOR = 0.52 (95% CI 0.50–0.55), respectively], finish upper secondary education [aOR = 0.19 (95% CI 0.19–0.20)], start a university degree [aOR = 0.47 (95% CI 0.45–0.49)], obtain a university degree [aOR = 0.35 (95% CI 0.33–0.37)], and finish postgraduate education [aOR = 0.58 (95% CI 0.43–0.80)]. Results were attenuated but remained statistically significant in adjusted sibling comparison models. When psychiatric comorbidities were taken into account, the results were largely unchanged.
Treatment-seeking individuals with SAD have substantially impaired academic performance throughout the formative years. Early detection and intervention are warranted to minimise the long-term socioeconomic impact of the disorder.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are two severe eating disorders associated with high premature mortality, suicidal risk and serious medical complications. Transition between anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa over the illness course and familial co-aggregation of the two eating disorders imply aetiological overlap. However, genetic and environmental liabilities to the overlap are poorly understood. Quantitative genetic research using clinical diagnosis is needed.
We acquired a clinical diagnosis of anorexia nervosa (prevalence = 0.90%) and bulimia nervosa (prevalence = 0.48%) in a large population-based sample (N = 782 938) of randomly selected full-sisters and maternal half-sisters born in Sweden between 1970 and 2005. Structural equation modelling was applied to quantify heritability of clinically diagnosed anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and the contributions of genetic and environmental effects on their overlap.
The heritability of clinically diagnosed anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa was estimated at 43% [95% confidence interval (CI) (36–50%)] and 41% (31–52%), respectively, in the study population, with the remaining variance explained by variance in unique environmental effects. We found statistically significant genetic [0.66, 95% CI (0.49–0.82)] and unique environmental correlations [0.55 (0.43–0.66)] between the two clinically diagnosed eating disorders; and their overlap was about equally explained by genetic and unique environmental effects [co-heritability 47% (35–58%)].
Our study supports shared mechanisms for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and extends the literature from self-reported behavioural measures to clinical diagnosis. The findings encourage future molecular genetic research on both eating disorders and emphasize clinical vigilance for symptom fluctuation between them.
Poor response to dopaminergic antipsychotics constitutes a major challenge in the treatment of psychotic disorders and markers for non-response during first-episode are warranted. Previous studies have found increased levels of glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in non-responding first-episode patients compared to responders, but it is unknown if non-responders can be identified using reference levels from healthy controls (HCs).
Thirty-nine antipsychotic-naïve patients with first-episode psychosis and 36 matched HCs underwent repeated assessments with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and 3T magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Glutamate scaled to total creatine (/Cr) was measured in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and left thalamus, and levels of GABA/Cr were measured in ACC. After 6 weeks, we re-examined 32 patients on aripiprazole monotherapy and 35 HCs, and after 26 weeks we re-examined 30 patients on naturalistic antipsychotic treatment and 32 HCs. The Andreasen criteria defined non-response.
Before treatment, thalamic glutamate/Cr was higher in the whole group of patients but levels normalized after treatment. ACC levels of glutamate/Cr and GABA/Cr were lower at all assessments and unaffected by treatment. When compared with HCs, non-responders at week 6 (19 patients) and week 26 (16 patients) had higher baseline glutamate/Cr in the thalamus. Moreover, non-responders at 26 weeks had lower baseline GABA/Cr in ACC. Baseline levels in responders and HCs did not differ.
Glutamatergic and GABAergic abnormalities in antipsychotic-naïve patients appear driven by non-responders to antipsychotic treatment. If replicated, normative reference levels for glutamate and GABA may aid estimation of clinical prognosis in first-episode psychosis patients.
Causes of the comorbidity of substance misuse with anxiety-related and depressive disorders (anxiety/depression) remain poorly known. We estimated associations of substance misuse and anxiety/depression in the general population and tested them while accounting for genetic and shared environmental factors.
We studied individuals born in Sweden 1968–1997 (n = 2 996 398) with follow-up in nationwide register data for 1997–2013. To account for familial effects, stratified analyses were conducted within siblings and twin pairs. Substance misuse was defined as ICD-10 alcohol or drug use disorder or an alcohol/drug-related criminal conviction. Three dimensions of ICD-10 anxiety and depressive disorders and a substance misuse dimension were identified through exploratory factor analysis.
Substance misuse was associated with a 4.5-fold (95% CI 4.50–4.58) elevated risk of lifetime generalized anxiety/depression, 4.7-fold (95% CI 4.63–4.82) elevated risk of panic disorder and agora/social phobia, and 2.9-fold elevated risk of phobias/OCD (95% CI 2.82–3.02) as compared to those without substance misuse. The associations were attenuated in within-family analyses but we found elevated risks in monozygotic twin pairs discordant for substance misuse as well as significant non-shared environmental correlations. The association between anxiety/depression and substance misuse was mainly driven by generalized anxiety/depression, whereas other anxiety/depression dimensions had minor or no independent associations with substance misuse.
Substance misuse and anxiety/depression are associated at the population level, and these associations are partially explained by familial liabilities. Our findings indicate a common genetic etiology but are also compatible with a potential partially causal relationship between substance misuse and anxiety/depression.
Maternal polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has been proposed as a model for investigating the role of prenatal androgen exposure in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders. However, women with PCOS are at higher risk of developing psychiatric conditions and previous studies are likely confounded by genetic influences.
A Swedish nationwide register-based cohort study was conducted to disentangle the influence of prenatal androgen exposure from familial confounding in the association between maternal PCOS and offspring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and Tourette's disorder and chronic tic disorders (TD/CTD). PCOS-exposed offspring (n = 21 280) were compared with unrelated PCOS-unexposed offspring (n = 200 816) and PCOS-unexposed cousins (n = 17 295). Associations were estimated with stratified Cox regression models.
PCOS-exposed offspring had increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD, ASD, and TD/CTD compared with unrelated PCOS-unexposed offspring. Associations were stronger in girls for ADHD and ASD but not TD/CTD [ADHD: adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 1.61 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.31–1.99), ASD: aHR = 2.02 (95% CI 1.45–2.82)] than boys [ADHD: aHR = 1.37 (95% CI 1.19–1.57), ASD: aHR = 1.46 (95% CI 1.21–1.76)]. For ADHD and ASD, aHRs for girls were stronger when compared with PCOS-unexposed cousins, but slightly attenuated for boys.
Estimates were similar when accounting for familial confounding (i.e. genetics and environmental factors shared by cousins) and stronger in girls for ADHD and ASD, potentially indicating a differential influence of prenatal androgen exposure v. genetic factors. These results strengthen evidence for a potential causal influence of prenatal androgen exposure on the development of male-predominant neuropsychiatric disorders in female offspring of women with PCOS.
A recent family study of young adult males suggests a shared familial liability between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and high body mass index (BMI), and a genome-wide meta-analysis reported a genetic correlation of 0.26 between ADHD and BMI. To date, it is unclear whether these findings generalize to the relationship between ADHD and clinically diagnosed obesity.
By linking the Swedish national registers, we identified 25 38 127 individuals born between 1973 and 2000, together with their siblings and cousins. The risk of clinical obesity in individuals with ADHD was compared with the risk in those without ADHD. The relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors to the association between ADHD and clinical obesity were examined via assessment of the familial co-aggregation of the two conditions and quantitative genetic analysis.
Individuals with ADHD were at an increased risk of clinical obesity compared with those without (risk difference 3.73%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.55–3.90%; risk ratio 3.05, 95% CI 2.95–3.15). Familial co-aggregation of ADHD and clinical obesity was detected and the strength of the co-aggregation decreased by decreasing genetic relatedness. The correlation between the liabilities to ADHD and clinical obesity can be entirely attributed to their genetic correlation (rg 0.30, 95% CI 0.17–0.44).
The association between ADHD and clinical obesity in adolescence and young adulthood can be entirely attributed to genetic underpinnings shared by the two conditions. Children with ADHD should be monitored for weight gain so that preventive measures can be taken for those on a suboptimal trajectory.
Traits of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are strongly associated in children and adolescents, largely due to genetic factors. Less is known about the phenotypic and aetiological overlap between ADHD and ASD traits in adults.
We studied 6866 individuals aged 20–28 years from the Swedish Study of Young Adult Twins. Inattention (IA) and hyperactivity/impulsivity (HI) were assessed using the WHO Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale-V1.1. Repetitive and restricted behaviours (RRB) and social interaction and communication (SIC) were assessed using the Autism-Tics, ADHD, and other Comorbidities inventory. We used structural equation modelling to decompose covariance between these ADHD and ASD trait dimensions into genetic and shared/non-shared environmental components.
At the phenotypic level, IA was similarly correlated with RRB (r = 0.33; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.31–0.36) and with SIC (r = 0.32; 95% CI 0.29–0.34), whereas HI was more strongly associated with RRB (r = 0.38; 95% CI 0.35–0.40) than with SIC (r = 0.24; 95% CI 0.21–0.26). Genetic and non-shared environmental effects accounted for similar proportions of the phenotypic correlations, whereas shared environmental effects were of minimal importance. The highest genetic correlation was between HI and RRB (r = 0.56; 95% 0.46–0.65), and the lowest was between HI and SIC (r = 0.33; 95% CI 0.23–0.43).
We found evidence for dimension-specific phenotypic and aetiological overlap between ADHD and ASD traits in adults. Future studies investigating mechanisms underlying comorbidity between ADHD and ASD may benefit from exploring several symptom-dimensions, rather than considering only broad diagnostic categories.
Transition across eating disorder diagnoses is common, reflecting instability of specific eating disorder presentations. Previous studies have examined temporal stability of diagnoses in adult treatment-seeking samples but have not uniformly captured initial presentation for treatment. The current study examines transitions across eating disorder diagnostic categories in a large, treatment-seeking sample of individuals born in Sweden and compares these transitions across two birth cohorts and from initial diagnosis.
Data from Swedish eating disorders quality registers were extracted in 2013, including 9622 individuals who were seen at least twice from 1999 to 2013. Patterns of remission were examined in the entire sample and subsequently compared across initial diagnoses. An older (born prior to 1990) and younger birth cohort were also identified, and analyses compared these cohorts on patterns of diagnostic transition.
Although diagnostic instability was common, transition between threshold eating disorder diagnoses was infrequent. For all diagnoses, transition to remission was likely to occur following a diagnosis state that matched initial diagnosis, or through a subthreshold diagnostic state. Individuals in the younger cohort were more likely to transition to a state of remission than those in the older cohort.
Results indicate more temporal continuity in eating disorder presentations than suggested by previous research and highlight the importance of early detection and intervention in achieving remission.
Criminal offending is strongly transmitted across generations.
To clarify the contribution of rearing environment to cross-generational transmission of crime.
Using Swedish national registries, we identified 1176 full-sibling and 3085 half-sibling sets from high-risk families where at least one sibling was adopted and the other raised by the biological parents.
Risk for criminal conviction was substantially lower in the full- and half-siblings who were adopted v. home-reared (hazard ratios (HR) = 0.56, 95% CI 0.50–0.64 and 0.60, 95% CI 0.56–0.65, respectively). The protective effect of adoption was significantly stronger in sibships with two v. one high-risk parent.
Using matched high-risk full- and half-siblings, we found replicated evidence that (a) rearing environment has a strong impact on risk for criminal conviction, (b) high-quality rearing environments have especially strong effects in those at high familial risk for criminal offending and (c) the protective effects of adoption are stronger for more severe crimes and for repeated offending.
Mortality has been suggested to be increased in autism spectrum disorder
To examine both all-cause and cause-specific mortality in ASD, as well as
investigate moderating role of gender and intellectual ability.
Odds ratios (ORs) were calculated for a population-based cohort of ASD
probands (n = 27 122, diagnosed between 1987 and 2009)
compared with gender-, age- and county of residence-matched controls
(n = 2 672 185).
During the observed period, 24 358 (0.91%) individuals in the general
population died, whereas the corresponding figure for individuals with
ASD was 706 (2.60%; OR = 2.56; 95% CI 2.38–2.76). Cause-specific analyses
showed elevated mortality in ASD for almost all analysed diagnostic
categories. Mortality and patterns for cause-specific mortality were
partly moderated by gender and general intellectual ability.
Premature mortality was markedly increased in ASD owing to a multitude of
Acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) has been associated with schizophrenia in
some studies, but prior research is limited by the absence of comparison
populations. Here, we linked Swedish registers to examine the risk of
schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in 717 individuals diagnosed with AIP and
their first-degree relatives, compared with matched individuals without AIP
and their first-degree relatives. Individuals with AIP had a fourfold
increased risk of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Similarly, relatives of
individuals with AIP had double the risk of schizophrenia or bipolar
disorder, suggesting that these associations may be as a result of common
It is unclear whether associations between fetal growth and psychiatric
and socioeconomic problems are consistent with causal mechanisms.
To estimate the extent to which associations are a result of unmeasured
confounding factors using a sibling-comparison approach.
We predicted outcomes from continuously measured birth weight in a
Swedish population cohort (n = 3 291 773), while
controlling for measured and unmeasured confounding.
In the population, lower birth weight (⩽2500 g) increased the risk of all
outcomes. Sibling-comparison models indicated that lower birth weight
independently predicted increased risk for autism spectrum disorder
(hazard ratio for low birth weight = 2.44, 95% CI 1.99–2.97) and
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although attenuated,
associations remained for psychotic or bipolar disorder and educational
problems. Associations with suicide attempt, substance use problems and
social welfare receipt, however, were fully attenuated in sibling
Results suggest that fetal growth, and factors that influence it,
contribute to psychiatric and socioeconomic problems.
Low socioeconomic status in childhood is a well-known predictor of subsequent criminal and substance misuse behaviours but the causal mechanisms are questioned.
To investigate whether childhood family income predicts subsequent violent criminality and substance misuse and whether the associations are in turn explained by unobserved familial risk factors.
Nationwide Swedish quasi-experimental, family-based study following cohorts born 1989–1993 (ntotal = 526 167, ncousins = 262 267, nsiblings = 216 424) between the ages of 15 and 21 years.
Children of parents in the lowest income quintile experienced a seven-fold increased hazard rate (HR) of being convicted of violent criminality compared with peers in the highest quintile (HR = 6.78, 95% CI 6.23–7.38). This association was entirely accounted for by unobserved familial risk factors (HR = 0.95, 95% CI 0.44–2.03). Similar pattern of effects was found for substance misuse.
There were no associations between childhood family income and subsequent violent criminality and substance misuse once we had adjusted for unobserved familial risk factors.