NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Individuals with mild learning disabilities have a long-term risk of affective disorder, according to a report in the December issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.
In a large, population-based, prospective study, Dr. Marcus Richards, of University College London, UK, and colleagues examined the risk of affective disorder in subjects with mild learning disability and also evaluated the potential role of adverse social or material circumstances in childhood and adulthood.
Participants were drawn from members of the British 1946 birth cohort. The final sample consisted of 41 individuals with mild learning disability (defined as the equivalent of an IQ of 69 or less at age 15 years) and 2119 controls. "The Present State Examination at age 36 years and the Psychiatric Symptom Frequency Scale at age 13 years provided psychiatric outcome measures," the team explains.
They found that people with learning disabilities were significantly more likely to be rated by a teacher as having a behavioral problem than those in the comparison group (p < 0.001). These individuals also had a fourfold increased risk of affective disorder in mid-life.
The risk of affective disorder was "not accounted for by social and material disadvantage or by medical disorder," Dr. Richards and colleagues report.
Based on these findings, they conclude that the "continued assessment of affective state in individuals with learning disability as they progress through mid-life into old age is therefore of considerable importance."