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The impact of parental mental illness across the full diagnostic spectrum on externalising and internalising vulnerabilities in young offspring

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2018

Kimberlie Dean*
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network, NSW, Australia
Melissa J. Green
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia
Kristin R. Laurens
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia
Maina Kariuki
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Stacy Tzoumakis
Affiliation:
School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Titia Sprague
Affiliation:
NSW Ministry of Health, NSW, Australia
Rhoshel Lenroot
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Vaughan J. Carr
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
*
Author for correspondence: Kimberlie Dean, E-mail: k.dean@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

Background

The intergenerational risk for mental illness is well established within diagnostic categories, but the risk is unlikely to respect diagnostic boundaries and may be reflected more broadly in early life vulnerabilities. We aimed to establish patterns of association between externalising and internalising vulnerabilities in early childhood and parental mental disorder across the full spectrum of diagnoses.

Methods

A cohort of Australian children (n = 69 116) entering the first year of school in 2009 were assessed using the Australian Early Development Census, providing measures of externalising and internalising vulnerability. Parental psychiatric diagnostic status was determined utilising record-linkage to administrative health datasets.

Results

Parental mental illness, across diagnostic categories, was associated with all child externalising and internalising domains of vulnerability. There was little evidence to support interaction by parental or offspring sex.

Conclusions

These findings have important implications for informing early identification and intervention strategies in high-risk offspring and for research into the causes of mental illness. There may be benefits to focusing less on diagnostic categories in both cases.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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