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Parental mental illness and eating disorders in offspring

Authors

  • Helen Bould BM, BCh,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Academic Mental Health, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
    • Correspondence to: H. Bould, Clinical Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centre for Academic Mental Health, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Oakfield House, Oakfield Grove, Bristol BS8 2BN. E-mail: helen.bould@bris.ac.uk

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  • Ilona Koupil PhD,

    1. Centre for Health Equity Studies, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Christina Dalman PhD,

    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Epidemiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Bianca DeStavola PhD,

    1. Biostatistics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
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  • Glyn Lewis PhD,

    1. Clinical Trials and Applied Epidemiology, Mental Health Sciences Unit, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, London, UK
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  • Cecilia Magnusson PhD

    1. Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Epidemiology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • Supported by 01/01/2010-12/31/12 2009–3146 from Swedish Research Council project grant number and by 01/01/2008-12/31/11 2007–2064 from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research project grant number.

ABSTRACT

Objective

To investigate which parental mental illnesses are associated with eating disorders in their offspring.

Method

We used data from a record-linkage cohort study of 158,679 children aged 12–24 years at the end of follow-up, resident in Stockholm County from 2001 to 2007, to investigate whether different parental mental illnesses are risk factors for eating disorders in their offspring. The outcome measure was diagnosis of any eating disorder, either from an ICD or DSM-IV code, or inferred from an appointment at a specialist eating disorder clinic.

Results

Mental illness in parents is a risk factor for eating disorders in female offspring (Adjusted Hazard Ratio (AHR) 1.57 (95% CI 1.42, 1.92), p < 0.0001). Risk of eating disorders is increased if there is a parental diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder (AHR 2.28 (95% CI 1.39, 3.72), p = 0.004), personality disorder (AHR 1.57 (95% CI 1.01, 2.44), p = 0.043) or anxiety/depression (AHR 1.57 (95% CI 1.32, 1.86), p < 0.0001). There is a lack of statistical evidence for an association with parental schizophrenia (AHR 1.41 (95% CI 0.96, 2.07), p = 0.08), and somatoform disorder (AHR 1.25 (95% CI 0.74, 2.13), p = 0.40). There is no support for a relationship between parental substance misuse and eating disorders in children (AHR 1.08 (95% CI 0.82, 1.43), p = 0.57).

Discussion

Parental mental illness, specifically parental anxiety, depression, bipolar affective disorder, and personality disorders, are risk factors for eating disorders in their offspring. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2015; 48:383–391)

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