Age at first tobacco use and risk of subsequent psychosis-related outcomes: A birth cohort study
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© The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Objective: Compared to the substantial body of research examining links between cannabis use and psychosis, there has been relatively little attention to the role of tobacco as a potential risk factor for psychosis. This study explored the association between age at first tobacco use and psychosis-related outcomes in a birth cohort. Method: This study is based on a large birth cohort (the Mater-University Study of Pregnancy). At approximately 21 years of age, cohort members (N = 3752) were assessed for three psychosis-related outcomes (International Classification of Diseases non-affective psychosis, the presence of any hallucination and total count of delusional-like experiences) with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the Peters Delusional Inventory. Associations between age at first tobacco use and psychosis-related outcomes were examined using logistic regression in a model (a) adjusted for sex and age and (b) in a second model excluding all respondents who had a history of past problematic and current cannabis use. Results: When adjusted for age and sex, those who commenced tobacco at 15 years of age or younger were significantly more likely to (a) have non-affective psychosis, (b) be in the highest quartile of total score of the Peters Delusional Inventory and (c) report hallucinations. After excluding all those with a history of a cannabis use disorder, or who were current (last month) cannabis users, a significant association between age at first tobacco use and the presence of hallucinations persisted. Conclusion: There is an association between age at first tobacco use and subsequent psychosis-related outcomes in young adults. While the findings cannot be used to deduce causality, it adds weight to the hypothesis that early tobacco use may contribute to the risk of developing psychosis-related outcomes.
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