medwireNews: Children born to mothers with autoimmune diseases have an elevated risk for mental disorders, with this risk persisting until early adulthood for those born to women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or type 1 diabetes, researchers report.
These findings are based on a study of 2,254,234 children and young people (median age 16.7 years) born in Denmark between 1978 and 2015, of whom 2.26% were born to mothers with an autoimmune disease.
Fei Li (Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China) and colleagues found that overall, maternal autoimmune disease was associated with a significantly elevated risk for mental disorders in offspring during a median follow-up of 17 years, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.16 after adjustment for factors including parental psychiatric history, maternal demographics, and child’s sex.
The five most common autoimmune diseases associated with overall risk for mental disorders were type 1 diabetes (HR=1.24), RA (HR=1.25), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE; HR=1.34), multiple sclerosis (MS; HR=1.21), and psoriasis vulgaris (HR=1.24).
When the children and young people were categorized by age group (1–5, 6–18, and over 18 years), these associations persisted across all age groups for RA and type 1 diabetes, but were only statistically significant among children aged 6–18 years for those born to mothers with SLE, MS, or psoriasis vulgaris.
Li et al then evaluated specific mental disorders separately, finding an increased risk for organic disorders, obsessive–compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and mood disorders, as well as childhood neurodevelopmental conditions including autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in those born to mothers with versus without autoimmune diseases.
Taken together, “[t]hese findings suggest that a wide spectrum of mental disorders should be monitored in offspring of mothers with autoimmune diseases before or during pregnancy and especially for certain maternal autoimmune diseases (eg, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis),” write the researchers in JAMA Network Open.
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JAMA Netw Open 2022; 5: e227503