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Examining the association between autistic traits in childhood and adolescent hypomania: a longitudinal twin study

Taylor, Mark, Ronald, Angelica, Martin, Joanna ORCID:, Lundström, Sebastian, Hosang, Georgina and Lichtenstein, Paul 2022. Examining the association between autistic traits in childhood and adolescent hypomania: a longitudinal twin study. Psychological Medicine 52 (15) , pp. 3606-3615. 10.1017/S0033291721000374

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Background: There is evidence that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) co-occur with bipolar disorder (BD) relatively frequently. Individuals with BD often report symptoms of mania and hypomania during adolescence, prior to the age of onset for BD. It is unknown whether these symptoms are associated with ASDs. We examined whether diagnoses of ASDs and autistic traits were associated with hypomania in a large, population-based Swedish twin sample. Methods: Parental structured interviews assessed autistic traits, and were used to assign screening diagnoses of ASDs, when twins were aged 9 or 12 (N=13,533 pairs). Parents then completed questionnaires assessing hypomania when the twins were aged 15 and 18 (N=3852 pairs at age 15, and 3,013 pairs at age 18). After investigating the phenotypic associations between these measures, we used the classical twin design to test whether genetic and environmental influences on autistic traits influence variation in adolescent hypomania. Results: Autistic traits and ASD diagnoses in childhood were associated with elevated scores on the measures of adolescent hypomania. Twin analyses indicated that 6-9% of the variance in hypomania was explained by genetic influences that were shared with autistic traits in childhood. When repeating these analyses for specific autistic trait domains, we found a stronger association between social interaction difficulties and hypomania than for other autistic trait domains. Conclusions: These results indicate a genetic link between autistic traits and hypomania in adolescence. This adds to the growing evidence base of genetic factors associated with ASDs showing links with psychiatric outcomes across childhood and into adulthood.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0033-2917
Date of Acceptance: 27 January 2021
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2023 03:38

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