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Martin Cvetković

Like attracts like, even when it comes to mental illness

When it’s time to pick a mate, people often choose others like themselves—even when it comes to mental disorders, Stat reports. In a study published Tuesday in JAMA Psychiatry, people with mental illnesses were two to three times more likely than the general populace to have a partner with some kind of mental illness. In some cases, people even seemed to prefer partners with the same mental illness, potentially increasing the chances of passing on that illness to children. For example, people with schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were seven times more likely than average to have partners with those conditions, whereas people with autism-spectrum disorders were 10 times as likely to have autism-spectrum partners. The new finding could mean that genetic models for predicting mental illness at the population level, which usually assume random mating, could be getting the wrong answers, say the researchers.

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