The effects of maternal eating disorders on offspring childhood and early adolescent psychiatric disorders.


Objective: There is evidence that parental psychiatric disorders are associated with offspring psychiatric disorder. Very few small studies have investigated the effect of maternal eating disorders on offspring psychopathology throughout childhood and early adolescence. We aimed to investigate psychiatric disorders at age 7, 10, and 13 years in offspring of women with eating disorders prior to pregnancy and investigate the relative contribution of other psychiatric disorders. Method: Women (N = 12,035) from a large population-based longitudinal cohort: the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). A brief prepregnancy psychiatric history was obtained at enrollment to determine exposure. Offspring psychiatric disorder was measured using the developmental and well-being assessment at ages 7, 10, and 13. Results: Maternal eating disorders were associated with a psychiatric diagnosis in the offspring at age 7 and 10, particularly emotional disorders (Odds ratio = 1.9, 95%CI: 1.1-2.8). Maternal psychiatric disorders other than eating disorders predicted psychiatric diagnoses across ages, and acted in an additive fashion with maternal eating disorders. Discussion: Maternal eating disorders together with comorbid psychopathology increase risk for psychiatric disorders in childhood and early adolescence, in particular for emotional disorders. This has important implications for prevention and future research.