Increased risk of bipolar disorder associated with children whose parents are very young or very old

PARIS, Oct. 17 (Benin News) –

Children of younger or older parents have a higher risk of bipolar disorder and this risk is higher if they were born to a mother or father under the age of 20, if the mother was over 35 years old or the father over 45 years old. This trend translates into a “U-shaped curve”, showing higher risk for younger and older parents, according to research presented at the ECNP congress in Vienna, Austria, and published in the journal “European Neuropsychopharmacology”.

Bipolar disorder, which causes people with high moods to become extremely depressed, is one of the most common serious mental illnesses, affecting about 2% of the population, and carries a high risk of suicide and death. premature. We know that the heredity of the disease is high; if one parent has bipolar disorder, there is a 15-30% chance that they will pass it on to their children.

Dr Giovanna Fico, from the University of Barcelona, ​​director of the study, says that “the age of the parents is a factor that can influence the health of children and that has an impact on many pathologies, such as fertility and certain neuropsychiatric disorders”.

“What we found is slightly unusual in that parents, whether young or old, are at increased risk of having a child with bipolar disorder,” he continues. The increased risk is modest, but real. We can speculate that younger parents may be affected by environmental factors, such as socio-economic problems, lack of support, but also stress or immunological factors, and that in older parents genetic factors may come into play, but we don’t really know.

The researchers, from Spain, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands, conducted a systematic review of studies from multiple countries linking bipolar disorder to age. In total, the studies involved 13,424,760 participants, of whom 217,089 had bipolar disorder.

They found that older men were at greater risk than other groups of having a child with bipolar disorder. These men were 29% more likely to have a baby with bipolar disorder than fathers aged 25-29, while elderly women were 20% more likely than mothers aged 25-29.

Among parents under 20, the probability increases from 23% (for mothers) to 29% (for fathers). All analyzes were corrected for bias factors, such as family history of bipolar disorder and age of the other parent.

Giovanna Fico stresses that “this risk is moderate and must be put into perspective. However, for those already at risk, age is another factor to consider, so clinicians may need to counsel both young and older couples if they are at risk for bipolar disorder,” she says. We also observe this U-shaped curve in other pathologies, such as autism and certain cardiovascular diseases.

He announces that he plans to study several environmental factors that could be linked to the risk of bipolar disorder, but also to the evolution of the disease. “For example, we would like to study how exposure to pollution, climate change and urbanization can affect the risk of certain psychiatric disorders, and we want to try to understand whether these factors promote or worsen the course of the disorder”, he explains.

Professor Maj Vinberg, from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), notes that “this interesting systematic review article shows that children of young parents (up to 20 years old) have an increased risk of developing bipolar affective disorder. The same pattern is seen among older parents, defined as fathers over 45 and mothers over 35.”

“The study raises several exciting research questions, including the possibility of early prevention and intervention,” he said. For example, in the daily clinical setting, it is crucial to know that young people with BD in their manic phases have riskier sexual behavior, which may be associated with an increased risk of pregnancy,” they add.

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