MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
S. Hong Lee, PhD
Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane
School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Previous studies reported increased risk of schizophrenia (SCZ) in offspring associated with both early and delayed parental age. However, it remains unclear if the risk to the child is due to psychosocial factors associated with parental age or if those at higher risk for schizophrenia tend to have children at an earlier or later age.
We found evidence for a significant overlap between genetic factors associated with risk of schizophrenia and genetic factors associated with Age at First Birth (AFB). We observed a U-shaped relationship between schizophrenia risk and maternal AFB, consistent with the previously reported relationship between schizophrenia risk in offspring and maternal age when not adjusted for age of the father.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Response: The findings are relevant as previously the risk of schizophrenia in children associated with older mothers was generally thought to be caused by the age of the father and possible mutations in germline of older men. This explanation may now need to be revisited.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We have only considered genetic risk for schizophrenia because sample size, and hence the power to estimate risk allele effect sizes, is greatest. For example, 108 independent risk loci for schizophrenia have been identified as being genome-wide significant compared with only 3 for bipolar disorder. As GWAS sample sizes for other psychiatric disorders increase, then replication of our analyses based on these disorders will be possible.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: In this study, we investigated genetic overlap between schizophrenia and AFB using a novel experimental design based on genomic data that enables genetic effects to be disentangled from other confounding factors. This is achieved through independently collected schizophrenia and Age at First Birth data sets that are genetically informative.
The Age at First Birth data are collected from community samples with no known enrichment for psychiatric disorders. In particular, we sought to determine if response variables based on the relationships reported from a previous study between maternal age and schizophrenia risk in children could be predicted by schizophrenia risk profile scores in our independent data.
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Mehta D, Tropf FC, Gratten J, et al. Evidence for Genetic Overlap Between Schizophrenia and Age at First Birth in Women. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online March 23, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.0129.
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Dr. Hong lee (2016). Women With High Genetic Predisposition to Schizophrenia Tend To Have First Child at Earlier or Later Age MedicalResearch.com