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The effects of maternal eating disorders on offspring childhood and early adolescent psychiatric disorders

Authors

  • Nadia Micali MD, PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. University College London (UCL) Institute of Child Health, Behavioral and Brain Sciences Unit, London, United Kingdom
    • Correspondence to: Nadia Micali, UCL—Institute of Child Health, Behavioural and Brain Sciences Unit (BBSU), 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK. E-mail: n.micali@ucl.ac.uk

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  • Bianca De Stavola PhD,

    1. Department of Medical Statistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
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  • George B Ploubidis PhD,

    1. Department of Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom
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  • Emily Simonoff MD,

    1. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Janet Treasure MD, PhD

    1. Eating Disorders Research Unit Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
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  • Supported by 74882 from The UK Medical Research Council, and by 076467 from the Wellcome Trust; and from University of Bristol; National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Clinician scientist award to Dr Micali; Wellchild Project Grant.

ABSTRACT

Objective

There is evidence that parental psychiatric disorders are associated with offspring psychiatric disorder. Very few small studies have investigated the effect of maternal eating disorders on offspring psychopathology throughout childhood and early adolescence. We aimed to investigate psychiatric disorders at age 7, 10, and 13 years in offspring of women with eating disorders prior to pregnancy and investigate the relative contribution of other psychiatric disorders.

Method

Women (N = 12,035) from a large population-based longitudinal cohort: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). A brief prepregnancy psychiatric history was obtained at enrollment to determine exposure. Offspring psychiatric disorder was measured using the developmental and well-being assessment at ages 7, 10, and 13.

Results

Maternal eating disorders were associated with a psychiatric diagnosis in the offspring at age 7 and 10, particularly emotional disorders (Odds ratio = 1.9, 95%CI: 1.1–2.8). Maternal psychiatric disorders other than eating disorders predicted psychiatric diagnoses across ages, and acted in an additive fashion with maternal eating disorders.

Discussion

Maternal eating disorders together with comorbid psychopathology increase risk for psychiatric disorders in childhood and early adolescence, in particular for emotional disorders. This has important implications for prevention and future research. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:385–393)

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