A population-based study of the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder associated with parent-child separation during development

D. Paksarian, William W Eaton, P. B. Mortensen, K. R. Merikangas, C. B. Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background There is growing interest in the role of childhood adversities, including parental death and separation, in the etiology of psychotic disorders. However, few studies have used prospectively collected data to specifically investigate parental separation across development, or assessed the importance of duration of separation, and family characteristics. Method We measured three types of separation not due to death: maternal, paternal, and from both parents, across the ages of 1-15 years among a cohort of 985 058 individuals born in Denmark 1971-1991 and followed to 2011. Associations with narrowly and broadly defined schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the psychiatric register were assessed in terms of separation occurrence, age of separation, and number of years separated. Interactions with parental history of mental disorder were assessed. Results Each type of separation was associated with all three outcomes, adjusting for age, sex, birth period, calendar year, family history of mental disorder, urbanicity at birth and parental age. Number of years of paternal separation was positively associated with both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Associations between separation from both parents and schizophrenia were stronger when separation occurred at later ages, while those with bipolar disorder remained stable across development. The first occurrence of paternal separation appeared to increase risk more when it occurred earlier in childhood. Associations differed according to parental history of mental disorder, although in no situation was separation protective. Conclusions Effects of parental separation may differ by type, developmental timing and family characteristics. These findings highlight the importance of considering such factors in studies of childhood adversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2825-2837
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Medicine
Volume45
Issue number13
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 11 2015

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Parental Death
Bipolar Disorder
Mental Disorders
Schizophrenia
Parents
Parturition
Population
Maternal Death
Denmark
Psychotic Disorders
Psychiatry

Keywords

  • Bipolar disorder
  • parental separation
  • psychosis
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

A population-based study of the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder associated with parent-child separation during development. / Paksarian, D.; Eaton, William W; Mortensen, P. B.; Merikangas, K. R.; Pedersen, C. B.

In: Psychological Medicine, Vol. 45, No. 13, 11.10.2015, p. 2825-2837.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Paksarian, D. ; Eaton, William W ; Mortensen, P. B. ; Merikangas, K. R. ; Pedersen, C. B. / A population-based study of the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder associated with parent-child separation during development. In: Psychological Medicine. 2015 ; Vol. 45, No. 13. pp. 2825-2837.
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