Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared.
Childhood psychopathology in children of women with eating disorders: understanding risk mechanisms
Article first published online: 27 JUN 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 55, Issue 2, pages 124–134, February 2014
How to Cite
Micali, N., Stahl, D., Treasure, J. and Simonoff, E. (2014), Childhood psychopathology in children of women with eating disorders: understanding risk mechanisms. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55: 124–134. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12112
Correction Note: This article was first published online on the 27th of June 2013, under a subscription publication licence. The article has since been made OnlineOpen, and the copyright line and licence statement was therefore updated in August 2014.
- Issue published online: 16 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 27 JUN 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 3 MAY 2013
- National Institute of Health Research (NIHR)
- child psychopathology;
- eating disorders;
- parental mental health;
- risk mechanisms
Very few studies have investigated psychopathology in children of mothers with eating disorders (ED). We aimed to determine the effect of maternal ED on childhood psychopathology in a large population-based cohort and investigate relevant risk pathways using structural equation modeling (SEM).
Data on emotional and behavioral problems at 3½ years were obtained prospectively on 8,622 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Children of exposed women who self-reported lifetime anorexia nervosa (AN, N = 193) or bulimia nervosa (BN, N = 158) in pregnancy were compared with children of unexposed women (N = 8,271) using linear and logistic regression models. SEM was used to determine best-fitting risk models by child gender.
There was evidence that girls of AN women were more likely to have emotional, conduct, and hyperactivity disorders [Odds Ratio (OR): 1.7 (95% Confidence Intervals 1.0–3.0); OR: 2.2 (1.2–4.0); OR: 1.8 (1.1–3.1), respectively] and boys of AN women to have emotional disorders compared with unexposed [OR: 2.0(1.2–3.4)]. Girls of women with BN were more likely to show hyperactivity [OR: 1.7 (1.0–3.1)]; and boys to show emotional and conduct disorders compared with unexposed [OR: 2.2 (1.2–3.9); OR: 2.4 (1.4–4.2), respectively]. SEM models showed that pregnancy anxiety and depression mediated the effect of maternal ED on child psychopathology.
Maternal ED are associated with different childhood psychopathology outcomes in boys and girls. Pregnancy anxiety and depression and active ED symptoms are important mediators of risk and are preventable; the direct effect of maternal lifetime ED was small.