Consanguineous Marriage and the Psychopathology of Progeny: A Population-wide Data Linkage Study

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    Importance: Approximately 1 in 10 children worldwide are born to consanguineous parents. The literature on consanguinity and mental health of progeny is scarce despite the fact that many of the factors associated with consanguineous unions are also associated with mental health.

    Objective: To investigate if children of consanguineous parents are at increased risk of common mood disorders or psychoses.

    Design, Setting, and Participants: This investigation was a retrospective population-wide cohort study of all individuals born in Northern Ireland between January 1, 1971, and December 31, 1986, derived from the Child Health System data set and linked to nationwide administrative data sources on prescription medication and death records. Data from the Child Health System data set identified all 447 452 births delivered to mothers residing in Northern Ireland between 1971 and 1986. The final data set comprised 363 960 individuals, alive and residing in Northern Ireland in 2014, with full data on all variables. The dates of analysis were June 1 to October 31, 2017.

    Main Outcomes and Measures: Degree of parental consanguinity was assessed from questions asked of the parents during routine health visitor house calls within 2 weeks of the child’s birth. Potential mental ill health was estimated by receipt of psychotropic medication in 2010 to 2014. Ever or never use was used for the main analysis, with sensitivity analyses using a cutoff of at least 3 months’ prescriptions. Receipt of antidepressant or anxiolytic medications was used as a proxy for common mood disorders, whereas receipt of antipsychotic medications was used as a proxy indicator of psychoses.

    Results: Of the 363 960 individuals (52.5% [191 102] male), 609 (0.2%) were born to consanguineous parents. After full adjustment for factors known to be associated with poor mental health, multilevel logistic regression models found that children of first-cousin consanguineous parents were more than 3 times as likely to be in receipt of antidepressant or anxiolytic medications (odds ratio, 3.01; 95% CI, 1.24-7.31) and more than twice as likely to be in receipt of antipsychotic medication (odds ratio, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.29-3.51) compared with children of nonrelated parents.

    Conclusions and Relevance: A child of consanguineous parents is at increased risk of common mood disorders and psychoses.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)438-446
    JournalJAMA Psychiatry
    Journal publication date04 Apr 2018
    Issue number5
    Early online date04 Apr 2018
    Publication statusEarly online date - 04 Apr 2018

    ID: 149079272