Children With Early-Onset Disruptive Behavior: Parental Mental Disorders Predict Poor Psychosocial Functioning in Adolescence

Peter Josse Roetman*, Sebastian Lundström, Catrin Finkenauer, Robert Rafaël Joseph Marie Vermeiren, Paul Lichtenstein, Olivier Frederiek Colins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Parental mental disorders (MD) and child early-onset disruptive behavior (DB) are well-established risk factors for poor outcomes in adolescence. However, it is not clear whether parental MD increases risk of future maladjustment among children who already display DB. Method: Parents of 9-year-old children reported on child DB, whereas a patient registry was used to determine parental MD. At follow-ups at ages 15 (n = 6,319) and 18 (n = 3,068) years, information about various problems were collected via registries, parent-, and self-reports. Results: In the total sample, child DB was related to all outcomes (mean odds ratio [OR] = 1.18; range = 1.07−1.51; p values <.01), paternal MD to criminality, aggression, truancy, poor school performance, and a cumulative risk index of poor functioning, and maternal MD to peer problems, rule breaking, and truancy (mean OR = 1.67; range = 1.19−2.71; p values <.05). In the subsample of children with DB, paternal MD predicted criminality, consequences of antisocial behavior, truancy, poor school performance, and cumulative risk, whereas maternal MD predicted peer problems (mean OR = 1.94; range = 1.30−2.40; p values <.05). Conclusion: This study provides novel evidence that parental MD places 9-year-olds with DB at risk for negative outcomes in adolescence. In addition, paternal MD is a better predictor than maternal MD, regardless of child DB at age 9, suggesting that fathers should be given increased attention in future research. Treatment-as-usual of children with DB could be augmented with additional screening and, if necessary, treatment of mental health problems in their parents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-817
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
Early online date2 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


This work was supported by ACTION. ACTION receives funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007– 2013) under grant agreement no. 602768. The authors acknowledge The Swedish Twin Registry for access to data. The Swedish Twin Registry is managed by Karolinska Institutet and receives funding through the Swedish Research Council under the grant no. 2017-00641. The Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS) was supported by the Swedish Council for Working Life, funds under the ALF agreement, the Söderström-Königska Foundation, and the Swedish Research Council (Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences and SIMSAM).

FundersFunder number
Karolinska Institutet2017-00641


    • aggression
    • child of impaired parents
    • conduct disorder
    • longitudinal studies
    • oppositional defiant disorder


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