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Age at first birth in women is genetically associated with increased risk of schizophrenia.

Abstract

Previous studies have shown an increased risk for mental health problems in children born to both younger and older parents compared to children of average-aged parents. We previously used a novel design to reveal a latent mechanism of genetic association between schizophrenia and age at first birth in women (AFB). Here, we use independent data from the UK Biobank (N = 38,892) to replicate the finding of an association between predicted genetic risk of schizophrenia and AFB in women, and to estimate the genetic correlation between schizophrenia and AFB in women stratified into younger and older groups. We find evidence for an association between predicted genetic risk of schizophrenia and AFB in women (P-value = 1.12E-05), and we show genetic heterogeneity between younger and older AFB groups (P-value = 3.45E-03). The genetic correlation between schizophrenia and AFB in the younger AFB group is -0.16 (SE = 0.04) while that between schizophrenia and AFB in the older AFB group is 0.14 (SE = 0.08). Our results suggest that early, and perhaps also late, age at first birth in women is associated with increased genetic risk for schizophrenia in the UK Biobank sample. These findings contribute new insights into factors contributing to the complex bio-social risk architecture underpinning the association between parental age and offspring mental health.

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