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

Peter Josse Roetman, Sebastian Lundström, Catrin Finkenauer, Robert Rafaël Joseph Marie Vermeiren, Paul Lichtenstein, Olivier Frederiek Colins

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-817
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

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