University of Oulu

Koskela, M., Jokiranta-Olkoniemi, E., Luntamo, T. et al. Selective mutism and the risk of mental and neurodevelopmental disorders among siblings. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2022).

Selective mutism and the risk of mental and neurodevelopmental disorders among siblings

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Author: Koskela, Miina1,2,3,4; Jokiranta-Olkoniemi, Elina1,2,3,5; Luntamo, Terhi1,2;
Organizations: 1Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
2Department of Child Psychiatry, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
3INVEST Research Flagship Center, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
4Research Centre for Child Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
5Unit of Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychiatric University Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
7Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology, Department of Psychology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
8Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
9Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centre, Capital Region Psychiatry, Copenhagen, Denmark
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-06-09


The siblings of children with mental disorders are more likely to experience mental health issues themselves, but there has been a lack of sibling studies on selective mutism (SM). The aim of this population-based study was to use national registers to examine associations between children with SM and diagnoses of various mental disorder in their siblings. All singleton children born in Finland from 1987 to 2009, and diagnosed with SM from 1998 to 2012, were identified from national health registers and matched with four controls by age and sex. Their biological siblings and parents were identified using national registries and the diagnostic information on the siblings of the subjects and controls was obtained. The final analyses comprised 658 children with SM and their 1661 siblings and 2092 controls with 4120 siblings. The analyses were conducted using generalized estimating equations. Mental disorders were more common among the siblings of the children with SM than among the siblings of the controls. The strongest associations were observed for childhood emotional disorders and autism spectrum disorders after the data were adjusted for covariates and comorbid diagnoses among SM subjects. The final model showed associations between SM and a wide range of disorders in siblings, with strongest associations with disorders that usually have their onset during childhood. Our finding showed that SM clustered with other mental disorders in siblings and this requires further research, especially the association between SM and autism spectrum disorders. Strong associations with childhood onset disorders may indicate shared etiologies.

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Series: European child & adolescent psychiatry
ISSN: 1018-8827
ISSN-E: 1435-165X
ISSN-L: 1018-8827
Issue: Online first
DOI: 10.1007/s00787-022-02114-3
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3124 Neurology and psychiatry
515 Psychology
Funding: Open Access funding provided by University of Turku (UTU) including Turku University Central Hospital. This research was funded by the Academy of Finland Flagship Programme (Decision number: 320162), the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland (Decision number: 303581) and the Academy of Finland Health from Cohorts and Biobanks Programme (Decision number: 308552). The authors do not have any financial relationships with the funding organizations.
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