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Children With Early-Onset Disruptive Behavior: Parental Mental Disorders Predict Poor Psychosocial Functioning in Adolescence

Journal article
Authors P. J. Roetman
Sebastian Lundström
C. Finkenauer
R. R. J. M. Vermeiren
P. Lichtenstein
O. F. Colins
Published in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume 58
Issue 8
Pages 806-817
ISSN 0890-8567
Publication year 2019
Published at Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Pages 806-817
Language en
Keywords aggression, child of impaired parents, conduct disorder, longitudinal studies, oppositional defiant disorder
Subject categories Neurosciences


Objective: Parental mental disorders (MD) and child early-onset disruptive behavior (DB) are well-established risk factors for poor outcomes in adolescence. However, it is not clear whether parental MD increases risk of future maladjustment among children who already display DB. Method: Parents of 9-year-old children reported on child DB, whereas a patient registry was used to determine parental MD. At follow-ups at ages 15 (n = 6,319) and 18 (n = 3,068) years, information about various problems were collected via registries, parent-, and self-reports. Results: In the total sample, child DB was related to all outcomes (mean odds ratio [OR] = 1.18; range = 1.07−1.51; p values <.01), paternal MD to criminality, aggression, truancy, poor school performance, and a cumulative risk index of poor functioning, and maternal MD to peer problems, rule breaking, and truancy (mean OR = 1.67; range = 1.19−2.71; p values <.05). In the subsample of children with DB, paternal MD predicted criminality, consequences of antisocial behavior, truancy, poor school performance, and cumulative risk, whereas maternal MD predicted peer problems (mean OR = 1.94; range = 1.30−2.40; p values <.05). Conclusion: This study provides novel evidence that parental MD places 9-year-olds with DB at risk for negative outcomes in adolescence. In addition, paternal MD is a better predictor than maternal MD, regardless of child DB at age 9, suggesting that fathers should be given increased attention in future research. Treatment-as-usual of children with DB could be augmented with additional screening and, if necessary, treatment of mental health problems in their parents. © 2019 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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