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Compr Psychiatry. 2008 May-Jun;49(3):247-54. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2007.10.001. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

A family history study of binge-eating disorder.

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  • 1Clinical Psychology Program, Argosy University, Washington, DC 22209, USA.


Family studies of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have yielded important information about the etiologies of these eating disorders. By contrast, little is known about familial factors of etiologic importance for binge-eating disorder (BED). The purpose of the current family history study was to assess the prevalence of comorbid psychopathology in a non-treatment seeking female sample of 31 probands with BED, 32 control probands without BED, and their 283 first-degree relatives. In-person semistructured clinical interviews were conducted with the probands, who also served as informants for all of their first-degree relatives. Significantly higher lifetime rates of major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and social phobia were found among women with BED compared with control women. Significantly higher lifetime rates of bipolar (I or II) disorder, any depressive disorder, nearly all anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa, and BED were reported among the first-degree relatives of women with BED compared with the first-degree relatives of control women. Furthermore, female relatives of women with BED were reported to have higher rates of substance use disorders and dysthymic disorder compared with female relatives of control women without BED. Nearly all disorders that were elevated in relatives of women with BED followed a pattern of independent transmission from BED. The primary exception was substance use disorder among female relatives, whose transmission pattern was consistent with that of a shared etiology with BED. Thus, BED and substance use disorder may share a common mechanism of familial transmission among women.

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