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Psychol Med. 2019 Oct;49(14):2354-2363. doi: 10.1017/S0033291718003227. Epub 2018 Dec 5.

Risk of schizophrenia, schizoaffective, and bipolar disorders by migrant status, region of origin, and age-at-migration: a national cohort study of 1.8 million people.

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Division of Psychiatry, UCL, London, UK.
Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden.



We assessed whether the risk of various psychotic disorders and non-psychotic bipolar disorder (including mania) varied by migrant status, a region of origin, or age-at-migration, hypothesizing that risk would only be elevated for psychotic disorders.


We established a prospective cohort of 1 796 257 Swedish residents born between 1982 and 1996, followed from their 15th birthday, or immigration to Sweden after age 15, until diagnosis, emigration, death, or end of 2011. Cox proportional hazards models were used to model hazard ratios by migration-related factors, adjusted for covariates.


All psychotic disorders were elevated among migrants and their children compared with Swedish-born individuals, including schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR]migrants: 2.20, 95% CI 1.96-2.47; aHRchildren : 2.00, 95% CI 1.79-2.25), affective psychotic disorders (aHRmigrant1.42, 95% CI 1.25-1.63; aHRchildren: 1.22 95% CI 1.07-1.40), and other non-affective psychotic disorders (aHRmigrant: 1.97, 95% CI 1.81-2.14; aHRchildren: 1.68, 95% CI 1.54-1.83). For all psychotic disorders, risks were generally highest in migrants from Africa (i.e. aHRschizophrenia: 5.24, 95% CI 4.26-6.45) and elevated at most ages-of-migration. By contrast, risk of non-psychotic bipolar disorders was lower for migrants (aHR: 0.58, 95% CI 0.52-0.64) overall, and across all ages-of-migration except infancy (aHR: 1.20; 95% CI 1.01-1.42), while risk for their children was similar to the Swedish-born population (aHR: 1.00, 95% CI 0.93-1.08).


Increased risk of psychiatric disorders associated with migration and minority status may be specific to psychotic disorders, with exact risk dependent on the region of origin.


Bipolar disorder; epidemiology; mania; migration; psychotic disorders; schizophrenia

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