University of Oulu

Lassila, M., Nordström, T., Hurtig, T., Mäki, P., Jääskeläinen, E., Oinas, E., & Miettunen, J. (2020). School success in childhood and subsequent prodromal symptoms and psychoses in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986. Psychological Medicine, 50(6), 948-955. doi:10.1017/S0033291719000825

School success in childhood and subsequent prodromal symptoms and psychoses in the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986

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Author: Lassila, M.1,2; Nordström, T.1,2; Hurtig, T.3,4,5;
Organizations: 1Center for Life Course Health Research, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Psychiatry, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4PEDEGO Research Unit, Child Psychiatry, University of Oulu,Oulu, Finland
5Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Psychiatry, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
7Department of Psychiatry, Länsi-Pohja healthcare district Department of Psychiatry, The Middle Ostrobothnia Central Hospital, Soite; Mental Health Services, Joint Municipal Authority of Wellbeing in Raahe District; Mental Health Services and Basic Health Care District of Kallio, Finland
8Department of Psychiatry, Kainuu Central Hospital, Kainuu Social and Healthcare District, Finland
9Medical Research Center Oulu, OuluUniversity Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Cambridge University Press, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-14


Background: Low IQ is a risk factor for psychosis, but the effect of high IQ is more controversial. The aim was to explore the association of childhood school success with prodromal symptoms in adolescence and psychoses in adulthood.

Methods: In the general population-based Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (n = 8 229), we studied the relationship between teacher-assessed learning deficits, special talents and general school success at age 8 years and both prodromal symptoms (PROD-screen) at age 15–16 years and the occurrence of psychoses by age 30 years.

Results: More prodromal symptoms were experienced by those talented in oral presentation [boys: adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.49; 95% confidence interval 1.14–1.96; girls: 1.23; 1.00–1.52] or drawing (boys: 1.44; 1.10–1.87). Conversely, being talented in athletics decreased the probability of psychotic-like symptoms (boys: OR 0.72; 0.58–0.90). School success below average predicted less prodromal symptoms with boys (OR 0.68; 0.48–0.97), whereas above-average success predicted more prodromal symptoms with girls (OR 1.22; 1.03–1.44). The occurrence of psychoses was not affected. Learning deficits did not associate with prodromal symptoms or psychoses.

Conclusions: Learning deficits in childhood did not increase the risk of prodromal symptoms in adolescence or later psychosis in this large birth cohort. Learning deficits are not always associated with increased risk of psychosis, which might be due to, e.g. special support given in schools. The higher prevalence of prodromal symptoms in talented children may reflect a different kind of relationship of school success with prodromal symptoms compared to full psychoses.

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Series: Psychological medicine
ISSN: 0033-2917
ISSN-E: 1469-8978
ISSN-L: 0033-2917
Volume: 50
Issue: 6
Pages: 948 - 955
DOI: 10.1017/S0033291719000825
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3124 Neurology and psychiatry
515 Psychology
Funding: This work was supported by the Brain and Behavior Research Fund, the Academy of Finland (grant numbers 268336, 278286); EU QLG1-CT-2000-01643 (EUROBLCS) (grant number E51560); NorFA (grant numbers 731, 20056, 30167); and USA/NIHH 2000 G DF682 (grant number 50945).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 268336
Detailed Information: 268336 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
278286 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © Cambridge University Press 2019. This article has been published in a revised form in Psychological Medicine This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works.