Familial clustering of psychiatric disorders and low IQ

Mark Weiser, Or Frenkel, Daphna Fenchel, Dorit Tzur, Sven Sandin, Magdalena Janecka, Linda Levi, Michael Davidson, Lucian Laor, Eyal Fruchter, Abraham Reichenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Although the ICD and DSM differentiate between different psychiatric disorders, these often share symptoms, risk factors, and treatments. This was a population-based, case-control, sibling study examining familial clustering of all psychiatric disorders and low IQ, using data from the Israel Draft-Board Registry on all Jewish adolescents assessed between 1998 and 2014. Methods We identified all cases with autism spectrum disorder (ASD, N = 2128), severe intellectual disability (ID, N = 9572), attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) (N = 3272), psychotic (N = 7902), mood (N = 9704), anxiety (N = 10 606), personality (N = 24 816), or substance/alcohol abuse (N = 791) disorders, and low IQ ( 3/42 SDs below the population mean, N = 31 186). Non-CNS control disorders were adolescents with Type-1 diabetes (N = 2427), hernia (N = 29 558) or hematological malignancies (N = 931). Each case was matched with 10 age-matched controls selected at random from the Draft-Board Registry, with replacement, and for each case and matched controls, we ascertained all full siblings. The main outcome measure was the relative recurrence risk (RRR) of the sibling of a case having the same (within-disorder RRR) or a different (across-disorder RRR) disorder. Results Within-disorder RRRs were increased for all diagnostic categories, ranging from 11.53 [95% confidence interval (CI): 9.23-14.40] for ASD to 2.93 (95% CI: 2.80-3.07) for personality disorders. The median across-disorder RRR between any pair of psychiatric disorders was 2.16 (95% CI: 1.45-2.43); the median RRR between low IQ and any psychiatric disorder was 1.37 (95% CI: 0.93-1.98). There was no consistent increase in across-disorder RRRs between the non-CNS disorders and psychiatric disorders and/or low IQ. Conclusion These large population-based study findings suggest shared etiologies among most psychiatric disorders, and low IQ.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


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