Is There Value in Targeted Screening & Intervention Programmes of Anxiety in Young Adult Offspring with Parental Mental Health Problems?

Research Paper Title

Associations of maternal and paternal mental health problems with offspring anxiety at age 20 years: Findings from a population-based prospective cohort study.

Background

Epidemiological studies indicate that children of parents with mental health problems are at an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders.

Few studies have investigated this relationship in young adults.

Methods

Participants were from the Raine Study, which is a multi-generational birth cohort study in Australia. Maternal anxiety and depression in late childhood were assessed using the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-42), and paternal lifetime mental health problems were assessed using a self-reported questionnaire.

The short form of DASS-42 (DASS-21) was used to assess anxiety symptoms among offspring at age 20. Negative binomial regression model was used to quantify the association. Data were available for 1,220 mother-offspring and 1,190 father-offspring pairs.

Results

After adjusting for potential confounders, the researchers found an increased risk of anxiety in young adult offspring exposed to maternal anxiety in late childhood and paternal lifetime mental health problems. However, they observed no increased risks of anxiety in offspring exposed to maternal depressive symptoms. Their sensitivity analysis based on the log-binomial model (binary outcome) as well as the linear model (log-transformed data) confirmed the robustness of the main results.

Conclusions

The findings suggest there can be value to consider and apply targeted screening and intervention programmes of anxiety in the young adult offspring with parental mental health problems.

Reference

Ayano, G., Betts, K., Lin, A., Tait, R. & Alati, R. (2021) Associations of maternal and paternal mental health problems with offspring anxiety at age 20 years: Findings from a population-based prospective cohort study. Psychiatry Research. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2021.113781. Online ahead of print.

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