Neurodevelopmental disorders and subsequent risk of violent victimization: exploring sex differences and mechanisms.
Ghirardi L., Kuja-Halkola R., Pettersson E., Sariaslan A., Arseneault L., Fazel S., D'Onofrio BM., Lichtenstein P., Larsson H.
BACKGROUND: Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) are associated with experiences of victimization, but mechanisms remain unclear. We explored sex differences and the role of familial factors and externalizing problems in the association between several NDs and violent victimization in adolescence and young adulthood. METHODS: Individuals born in Sweden 1985-1997, residing in Sweden at their 15th birthday, were followed until date of violent victimization causing a hospital visit or death, death due to other causes, emigration, or December 31, 2013, whichever came first. The exposures were diagnoses of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability (ID) and other NDs. We used three different Cox regression models: a crude model, a model adjusted for familial confounding using sibling-comparisons, and a model additionally adjusted for externalizing problems. RESULTS: Among 1 344 944 individuals followed, on average, for 5 years, 74 487 were diagnosed with NDs and 37 765 had a hospital visit or died due to violence. ADHD was associated with an increased risk of violent victimization in males [hazard ratio (HR) 2.56; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.43-2.70) and females (HR 5.39; 95% CI 4.97-5.85). ASD and ID were associated with an increased risk of violent victimization in females only. After adjusting for familial factors and externalizing problems, only ADHD was associated with violent victimization among males (HR 1.27; 95% CI 1.06-1.51) and females (HR 1.69; 95% CI 1.21-2.36). CONCLUSIONS: Females with NDs and males with ADHD are at greater risk of being victim of severe violence during adolescence and young adulthood. Relevant mechanisms include shared familial liability and externalizing problems. ADHD may be independently associated with violent victimization.