Association between parental income during childhood and risk of schizophrenia later in life

1. Parental income mobility may be inversely associated with the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

There are clear associations between a number of mental health conditions and socioeconomic status. The link between parental socioeconomic position (SEP) and schizophrenia risk amongst offspring, however, has not been well studied. In this population-based cohort study, researchers used Danish national registry data (1980 to 2000) to follow 1,051,033 individuals as a means of exploring links between parental income and income mobility during childhood and subsequent schizophrenia risk. A unique feature of this study was the consideration of income, which can fluctuate, rather than parental educational attainment, which is largely fixed. Researchers found that there was an inverse association between parental income level and subsequent schizophrenia risk, where children from lower income families were at a higher risk. This association persisted upon adjustment for urbanization, parental mental health disorders, parental educational levels and changes in child-parent separation status. A dose-response association was noted with increasing amounts of time spent in a low-income group and increasing schizophrenia risk. This was seen regardless of parental income level at birth, where upward income mobility was associated with lower schizophrenia risk. Notably, individuals that were born and remained in the lowest income group at age 15 years exhibited an elevated risk (HR 4.12, 95% CI 3.71 to 4.58), exceeding that observed in those that experienced a rise from the lowest income quintile at birth to the second lowest at age 15 years (HR 2.80, 95% CI 2.4 to 3.17). Similar trends were noted in individuals that experienced downward income mobility between birth and 15 years, with increasing risks of developing schizophrenia. This study therefore shows that parental income mobility during childhood may be associated with schizophrenia risk.

Click to read the study in JAMA Psychiatry

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