Children of mothers with mental disorders were more likely not to complete primary education than children of mothers without mental disorders, study findings showed.
In addition, the timing of disorder onset was associated with this finding: The most vulnerable children were those born to mothers whose disease began prior to conception, according to the JAMA Psychiatry research letter.
“Poor school performance and risk of not completing primary education have been observed in children born of mothers with severe psychiatric disorders (eg, schizophrenia) at the time of conception and of mothers with mental disorders with specific onset during pregnancy and postpartum,” Katja Glejsted Ingstrup, PhD, of Aarhus University, Denmark, and colleagues wrote.
In this population-based cohort study, researchers used Danish nationwide registry data to determine whether the specific timing of maternal mental disorder onset affected the completion of primary education in 684,248 children. Children were categorized as not having completed their primary education if there were no records of a final examination in the register.
Overall, 45,196 children did not complete primary education before age 18 years.
Ingstrup and colleagues found that children of mothers with mental disorders were more likely to not complete primary education compared with offspring of mothers without mental illness.
The association was strongest in offspring of mothers whose disorder began before conception (adjusted OR = 1.95; 95% CI, 1.85-2.06), but remained statistically significant when mothers experienced onset up to 16 years after giving birth (aOR = 1.47; 95% CI, 1.42-1.52). In addition, the association remained after adjusting for maternal age at birth and mental disorders in the child and father, according to the results.
The researchers also noted that prior evidence has shown that timing of maternal mental disease onset may impact the developing fetus and the child after giving birth.
“The consequences may be associated with school performance and the likelihood of completing primary education,” they wrote. “Explanations for this are multiple and include intrauterine stress and exposure to medication. After birth, maternal mental disorders can negatively impair bonding and attachment to the parents during the first months and years postpartum.” – by Savannah Demko
Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.