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Basic symptoms in offspring of parents with mood and psychotic disorders

  • Alyson Zwicker (a1), Lynn E. MacKenzie (a2), Vladislav Drobinin (a3), Emily Howes Vallis (a4), Victoria C. Patterson (a2), Meg Stephens (a5), Jill Cumby (a6), Lukas Propper (a7), Sabina Abidi (a7), Alexa Bagnell (a7), Frauke Schultze-Lutter (a8), Barbara Pavlova (a9), Martin Alda (a10) and Rudolf Uher (a11)...

Abstract

Background

Basic symptoms, defined as subjectively perceived disturbances in thought, perception and other essential mental processes, have been established as a predictor of psychotic disorders. However, the relationship between basic symptoms and family history of a transdiagnostic range of severe mental illness, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, has not been examined.

Aims

We sought to test whether non-severe mood disorders and severe mood and psychotic disorders in parents is associated with increased basic symptoms in their biological offspring.

Method

We measured basic symptoms using the Schizophrenia Proneness Instrument – Child and Youth Version in 332 youth aged 8–26 years, including 93 offspring of control parents, 92 offspring of a parent with non-severe mood disorders, and 147 offspring of a parent with severe mood and psychotic disorders. We tested the relationships between parent mental illness and offspring basic symptoms in mixed-effects linear regression models.

Results

Offspring of a parent with severe mood and psychotic disorders (B = 0.69, 95% CI 0.22–1.16, P = 0.004) or illness with psychotic features (B = 0.68, 95% CI 0.09–1.27, P = 0.023) had significantly higher basic symptom scores than control offspring. Offspring of a parent with non-severe mood disorders reported intermediate levels of basic symptoms, that did not significantly differ from control offspring.

Conclusions

Basic symptoms during childhood are a marker of familial risk of psychopathology that is related to severity and is not specific to psychotic illness.

Declaration of interest

None.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Rudolf Uher, Dalhousie University, 5909 Veterans Memorial Lane, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 2E2, Canada. Email: uher@dal.ca.

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Basic symptoms in offspring of parents with mood and psychotic disorders

  • Alyson Zwicker (a1), Lynn E. MacKenzie (a2), Vladislav Drobinin (a3), Emily Howes Vallis (a4), Victoria C. Patterson (a2), Meg Stephens (a5), Jill Cumby (a6), Lukas Propper (a7), Sabina Abidi (a7), Alexa Bagnell (a7), Frauke Schultze-Lutter (a8), Barbara Pavlova (a9), Martin Alda (a10) and Rudolf Uher (a11)...
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