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Schizophr Res Cogn. 2017 Jul 26;9:18-22. doi: 10.1016/j.scog.2017.07.001. eCollection 2017 Sep.

Is the association between offspring intelligence and parents' educational attainment influenced by schizophrenia or mood disorder in parents?

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Psychosis Research Unit, Aarhus University Hospital, Skovagervej 2, 8240 Risskov, Denmark.
The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, iPSYCH, Denmark.
Department of Public Health and Center for healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen, Oester Farimagsgade 5, 1014 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centre, Mental Health Services Capital Region, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Richlands, Australia.
National Centre for Register-based Research, Aarhus University, Fuglesangs Alle 4, 8210 Aarhus V, Denmark.


Results from twin, family, and adoption studies all suggest that general intelligence is highly heritable. Several studies have shown lower premorbid intelligence in individuals before the onset of both mood disorders and psychosis, as well as in children and adolescents at genetic high risk for developing schizophrenia. Based on these findings, we aim to investigate if the association between educational achievement in parents and intelligence in their offspring is influenced by schizophrenia or mood disorder in parents. In a large population-based sample of young adult male conscripts (n = 156,531) the presence of a mental disorder in the parents were associated with significantly lower offspring scores on a test of general intelligence, the Børge Priens Prøve (BPP), and higher educational attainment in parents was significantly associated with higher BPP test scores in offspring. A significant interaction suggested that the positive association between maternal education and offspring intelligence was stronger in offspring of mothers with schizophrenia compared to the control group (p = 0.03). The associations between parental education and offspring intelligence are also observed when restricting the sample to conscripts whose parents are diagnosed after 30 years of age. In conclusion, findings from this study show a more positive effect of education on offspring intelligence in mothers with schizophrenia compared to mothers from the control group. This effect could have both environmental and genetic explanations.


Educational attainment; General cognitive ability; Intelligence; Mood disorder; Schizophrenia

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