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Nineteen and Up study (19Up): understanding pathways to mental health disorders in young Australian twins

17 Mar 2018

Purpose

The Nineteen and Up study (19Up) assessed a range of mental health and behavioural problems and associated risk factors in a genetically informative Australian cohort of young adult twins and their non-twin siblings. As such, 19Up enables detailed investigation of genetic and environmental pathways to mental illness and substance misuse within the Brisbane Longitudinal Twin Sample (BLTS).

Participants

Twins and their non-twin siblings from Queensland, Australia; mostly from European ancestry. Data were collected between 2009 and 2016 on 2773 participants (age range 18–38, 57.8% female, 372 complete monozygotic pairs, 493 dizygotic pairs, 640 non-twin siblings, 403 singleton twins).

Findings to date

A structured clinical assessment (Composite International Diagnostic Interview) was used to collect lifetime prevalence of diagnostic statistical manual (4th edition) (DSM-IV) diagnoses of major depressive disorder, (hypo)mania, social anxiety, cannabis use disorder, alcohol use disorder, panic disorder and psychotic symptoms. Here, we further describe the comorbidities and ages of onset for these mental disorders. Notably, two-thirds of the sample reported one or more lifetime mental disorder.

In addition, the 19Up study assessed general health, drug use, work activity, education level, personality, migraine/headaches, suicidal thoughts, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptomatology, sleep–wake patterns, romantic preferences, friendships, familial environment, stress, anorexia and bulimia as well as baldness, acne, asthma, endometriosis, joint flexibility and internet use.

The overlap with previous waves of the BLTS means that 84% of the 19Up participants are genotyped, 36% imaged using multimodal MRI and most have been assessed for psychological symptoms at up to four time points. Furthermore, IQ is available for 57%, parental report of ADHD symptomatology for 100% and electroencephalography for 30%.

Future plans

The 19Up study complements a phenotypically rich, longitudinal collection of environmental and psychological risk factors. Future publications will explore hypotheses related to disease onset and development across the waves of the cohort. A follow-up study at 25+years is ongoing.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open