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J Anxiety Disord. 2009 Dec;23(8):1158-64. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2009.07.021. Epub 2009 Aug 6.

Anxiety and depressive disorders in offspring at high risk for anxiety: a meta-analysis.

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Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Suite 2000, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


This paper presents a meta-analysis of studies examining prevalence of psychopathology among offspring of anxiety-disordered parents, with the purpose of determining overall risk among these offspring for developing anxiety and depressive disorders. Pooled odds ratios for these disorders among high-risk offspring, compared to offspring of psychiatric and non-psychiatric controls, were calculated. Sixteen papers (including three follow-up studies) were identified, encompassing 1892 offspring (ages 4-25 years). Results revealed that: (1) offspring of parents with anxiety disorders have greater risk for anxiety and depressive disorders than offspring of non-psychiatric controls (ORs=3.91 and 2.67, respectively) and greater risk for anxiety disorders than offspring of psychiatric controls (OR=1.84); (2) offspring of anxious parents have significantly greater odds of having each type of anxiety disorder and MDD compared to offspring of non-psychiatric controls (ORs range from 1.96 to 8.69); and (3) offspring of parents with anxiety only, anxiety plus MDD, and MDD only have similar odds of having anxiety and depressive disorders but significantly higher odds than offspring of parents without disorder. Results suggest that parental anxiety disorders confer significant risk for anxiety and depression in offspring. Additional studies are needed to examine whether there are differences among specific parental anxiety disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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