Association between perinatal and childhood risk factors with mental disorders in adolescence

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Clinic of Psychiatry, management building PT1, auditorium 1, Peltolantie 17, Oulu

Topic of the dissertation

Association between perinatal and childhood risk factors with mental disorders in adolescence

Doctoral candidate

Licentiate of Medicine Sari Lukkari

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience

Subject of study



Docent Max Karukivi, University of Turku


Professor Pirkko Riipinen, University of Oulu

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Association of early risk factors to mental disorders in adolescence

Many adult diseases have their origins in early life events. Much remains unrevealed in this field, especially concerning associations between perinatal complications and early manifestation of psychiatric disorders.

The aim of this work is to assess the association of early adverse life events and later psychiatric disorders in adolescence. This study sample consists of 508 adolescent inpatients aged 13-17 years in need of acute psychiatric hospitalization in an adolescent psychiatric ward of Unit 70 in Oulu University Hospital between years 2001-2006. A diagnostic semi-structured interview, the Schedule for Affective Disorder and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children Present and Lifetime (K-SADSPL), was carried out to assess psychiatric disorders according to DSM-IV criteria. The information on obstetric complications was obtained simultaneously. Birth measures data were derived from the Medical Birth Register. Diagnoses of epilepsy and other convulsions and child psychiatric diagnoses based on hospital treatment on the child psychiatric ward were obtained from the Finnish Care Register of Health Care.

Delivery complications, especially section, increased the likelihood for conduct disorders among adolescent boys. The adolescent boys were shorter and had higher ponderal index at birth compared to healthy controls. In boys high ponderal index was associated with internalizing disorders in adolescence. Febrile and other convulsions and epilepsy in childhood associated with suicide attempts among adolescent boys. The likelihood for personality disorder was 14-fold among adolescents with febrile or other convulsions in childhood and three-fold among those with childhood epilepsy. Previous child psychiatric care associated with self-mutilative behaviour and child welfare placement in adolescence. Among boys, a history of child psychiatric care was related to anxiety and conduct disorders in adolescence, and among girls, mother’s unemployment, psychiatric problems and family malfunction quantified as a low GARF.

These findings imply that especially boys with adverse biological perinatal and early childhood adversities are at risk for mental disorders in adolescence. Girls, on the other hand, in the light of this study, seem to be vulnerable especially to adverse environmental circumstances like family malfunction and maternal problems.

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Last updated: 1.3.2023