Schizotypal and affective traits in the offspring of antenatally depressed mothers - Relationship to family history of psychosis in the Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort

Eur Psychiatry. 2017 May;42:36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.eurpsy.2016.12.006. Epub 2016 Dec 28.


Background: Maternal depression is relatively common during pregnancy. However, follow-ups of the adult offspring of antenatally depressed mothers are scarce. Previously we found the risk of schizophrenia to be higher in the adult offspring with antenatally depressed mothers and parents with psychosis than in subjects with only one or neither of these risk factors. The aim was to study whether the risk of schizotypal or affective traits differ among adult offspring with antenatally depressed mothers with or without a parental history of psychosis when compared with offspring without antenatally depressed mothers and without parental psychosis.

Methods: In the general population-based Northern Finland 1966 Birth Cohort (NFBC 1966), the mothers of the cohort members were asked at mid-gestation whether they felt depressed. Parental psychosis (Familial Risk, FR) was detected using the Finnish Care Register for Health Care. In the 31-year field study, seven psychometric questionnaires surveyed schizotypal and affective traits in the offspring. The final sample included 4928 individuals (2203 males).

Results: There were no statistically significant differences in mean scores on the schizotypal and affective scales between offspring with and without antenatally depressed mothers, or between subjects with and without parental psychosis. The scores were not highest in the subjects with both maternal antenatal depressed mood and FR.

Conclusion: Surprisingly, maternal depressed mood during pregnancy was unlikely to increase the risk of schizotypy or affective traits in adult offspring, and not even with parental psychosis (FR) in this general population-based birth cohort with about 5000 subjects.

Keywords: Follow-up; Maternal depression; NFBC 1966; Parental psychosis; Pregnancy; Schizotypy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Children / psychology*
  • Adult Children / statistics & numerical data
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Child of Impaired Parents / statistics & numerical data
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / epidemiology*
  • Schizophrenia / etiology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires