Bipolar disorder more likely in children of older fathers

September 2nd, 2008 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 2 (IANS) Bipolar disorder is likely to be more common among children of older fathers, according to a study.The condition is a common, severe mood disorder involving episodes of mania and depression, the study says.

Other than a family history of psychotic disorders, few risk factors for the condition have been identified.

Older paternal age has previously been associated with a higher risk of complex neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia and autism.

Emma M. Frans, of Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden and colleagues identified 13,428 patients in Swedish registers with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

For each one, they randomly selected from the registers five controls who were the same sex and born the same year but did not have bipolar disorder.

When comparing the two groups, the older an individual’s father, the more likely he or she was to have bipolar disorder.

After adjusting for the age of the mother, participants with fathers older than 29 years had an increased risk.

“After controlling for number of children, maternal age, socio-economic status and family history of psychotic disorders, the offspring of men 55 years and older were 1.37 times more likely to be diagnosed as having bipolar disorder than the offspring of men aged 20 to 24 years,” the authors wrote.

The offspring of older mothers also had an increased risk, but it was less pronounced than the paternal effect, the authors noted.

For early-onset bipolar disorder (diagnosed before age 20), the effect of the father’s age was much stronger and there was no association with the mother’s age.

“Personality of older fathers has been suggested to explain the association between mental disorders and advancing paternal age,” the authors wrote.

“However, mental disorders associated with increasing paternal age are under considerable genetic influence.” Therefore, there may be a genetic link between advancing age of the father and bipolar and other disorders in offspring.

The study will appear in the forthcoming issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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