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Investigating sex-specific effects of familial risk for ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders in the Swedish population

Martin, Joanna ORCID:, Ghirardi, Laura, Chen, Qi, Hartman, Catharina A., Rosenqvist, Mina A., Taylor, Mark J., Birgegård, Andreas, Almqvist, Catarina, Lichtenstein, Paul and Larsson, Henrik 2020. Investigating sex-specific effects of familial risk for ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders in the Swedish population. Bjpsych Open 6 (4) , e65. 10.1192/bjo.2020.47

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Background: Many psychiatric disorders show sex differences in prevalence. Recent studies suggest that females diagnosed with anxiety and depression carry more genetic risks related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared to affected males. Aims: In this register-based study, we aimed to test whether females who received clinical diagnoses of anxiety, depressive, bipolar, and eating disorders are at higher familial risk for ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs), compared to diagnosed males. Method: We analysed data from a record-linkage of several Swedish national registers, including 151,025 sibling pairs from 103,941 unique index individuals diagnosed with anxiety, depressive, bipolar, or eating disorders, as well as data from 646,948 cousin pairs. We compared the likelihood of having a relative diagnosed with ADHD/NDs in index males and females. Results: Females with anxiety disorders were more likely than affected males to have a brother with ADHD [OR(CIs)=1.13(1.05-1.22)]. Results for broader NDs were similar and were driven by ADHD diagnoses. Follow-up analyses revealed similar point estimates for several categories of anxiety disorders, with the strongest effect observed for agoraphobia [OR(CIs)=1.64(1.12-2.39)]. No significant associations were found in individuals with depressive, bipolar, or eating disorders, or in cousins. Conclusions: These results provide modest support for the possibility that familial/genetic risks for ADHD may show sex-specific phenotypic expression. Alternatively, there could be sex-specific biases in diagnoses of anxiety and ADHD. These factors could play a small role in the observed sex differences in prevalence of ADHD and anxiety.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: The Royal College of Psychiatrists
ISSN: 2056-4724
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 28 May 2020
Date of Acceptance: 20 May 2020
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 18:49

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