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Psychiatric family history in adolescents with severe asthma.

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  • 1National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine (NJCIRM), Denver, CO 80206, USA.



To examine the hypothesis that an association exists between severe asthma and familial affective and anxiety disorders.


A parent, usually the mother, of 62 adolescents admitted to a tertiary care asthma center was administered the Family History-Research Diagnostic Criteria Interview. Lifetime prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders in first-degree relatives were compared with previously reported rates.


In relatives of asthmatic adolescents, rates for depression, mania (females only), substance abuse (males only), and antisocial personality disorder were significantly higher than the rates in the non-ill comparison sample. Rates for substance abuse (males only) and antisocial personality disorder were higher than the rates for relatives of the depressed comparison sample. Rates for anxiety disorders were not higher than rates in epidemiological samples. Rates of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (females only) and posttraumatic stress disorder in relatives were higher than in community samples.


These results support the presence of a link between severe asthma and familial affective disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and substance abuse. Whether these disorders are genetically associated with asthma or represent an association with severe asthma because of environmental effects on the growing child is discussed.

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