Children with bipolar parents are at a higher risk
It seems fairly reasonable that children with bipolar parents are at a higher risk for the disorder. However, you may be surprised at the numbers and associations to other psychiatric disorders that are present in this population. According to a study published this March in the Archives of General Psychiatry children who have one or more parents that are diagnosed with bipolar disorder have almost a 14 fold increased risk of bipolar spectrum disorders. These children were also found to have an increased risk for anxiety and mood disorders. The researchers, commenting on the study’s findings said, “These findings further support the familiality and validity of bipolar in youth and indicate a need for early identification and treatment.” The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the study more:
To evaluate the prevalence of lifetime psychiatric disorders in children of parents with bipolar, the researchers conducted the Pittsburgh Bipolar Offspring Study (BIOS) in 388 offspring of 238 parents with bipolar disorder and 251 offspring of 143 matched controls. Children ranged in age from 6 to 18 years.
Ten of the evaluated families had two parents with bipolar spectrum disorder.
The researchers found that all psychiatric disorders were present in higher rates in the offspring of parents with bipolar than in the offspring of control parents (P?0.02).
In adjusted analyses, kids with parents who had bipolar had an increased risk for bipolar spectrum disorders (OR 13.4, 95% CI 2.9 to 61.6).
They were also at higher risk of anxiety (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.3 to 4.0), mood disorders (OR 5.2, 95% CI 2.3 to 11.4), and Axis I disorders (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.5 to 3.3).
The researchers noted that symptoms of these disorders overlap with symptoms of bipolar, so this may be one way that bipolar is manifested early in life, or acts as a preliminary symptom of the disorder, the researchers said.