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The patho-etiology of mental disorders with onset in childhood or adolescence remains largely unknown. We conducted an umbrella review of meta-analyses (MAs) on environmental factors associated with mental disorders with onset in childhood/adolescence. We searched Pubmed-MEDLINE/EMBASE/PsycInfo databases, last search April 29th, 2020. Quality of MAs was measured with AMSTAR-2. Out of 6851 initial references, ten articles met inclusion criteria, providing 23 associations between 12 potential environmental factors and nine disorders (cases: 8884; N = 3,660,670). While almost half of the associations were nominally significant, none of them met criteria from either convincing or highly suggestive evidence. A single association was supported by suggestive evidence (maternal exposure to lithium or antipsychotics with neuromotor deficits), but it was affected by confounding by indication. Ten more associations had weak evidence, and 12 associations were not statistically significant. Quality of meta-analyses was rated as high in two, moderate in one, low in four, critically low in two, and not pertinent in one (individual participant data). Methodologically-sound research is needed in this field.

Original publication




Journal article


Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews

Publication Date





565 - 573