Children of older fathers more likely to have bipolar disorder

September 1, 2008

Older age among fathers may be associated with an increased risk for bipolar disorder in their offspring, according to a report in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Bipolar disorder is a common, severe mood disorder involving episodes of mania and depression, according to background information in the article. 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, M.Med.Sc., of the 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 parity [number of children], maternal age, socioeconomic 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 write.

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

"As men age, successive germ cell replications occur, and de novo [new, not passed from parent to offspring] mutations accumulate monotonously as a result of DNA copy errors," the authors continue. "Women are born with their full supply of eggs that have gone through only 23 replications, a number that does not change as they age. Therefore, DNA copy errors should not increase in number with maternal age. Consistent with this notion, we found smaller effects of increased maternal age on the risk of bipolar disorder in the offspring."

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: Scientists find interaction between two key proteins regulates development of neurons

Related Stories

Scientists find interaction between two key proteins regulates development of neurons

September 14, 2017
Salk Institute scientists have discovered that an interaction between two key proteins helps regulate and maintain the cells that produce neurons. The work, published in Cell Stem Cell on September 14, 2017, offers insight ...

Psychotic disorders and obesity: New report shows big waistlines are to blame

August 23, 2017
Obesity is a major public health problem in the United States, as an estimated 35 percent of Americans are obese and have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. For the 2.2 million Americans with schizophrenia and the 5.7 ...

How video goggles and a tiny implant could cure blindness

August 25, 2017
At 16, Lynda Johnson was ready to learn how to drive. Yes, she had a progressive eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, which already had stolen her night vision. But throughout her childhood, the Millbrae, California, girl had ...

What is Seroquel and should you take it for insomnia?

August 29, 2017
Quetiapine, sold under the brand name Seroquel, is a short-acting antipsychotic drug. It's used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder and as an add-on treatment for major depression and generalised anxiety disorder in ...

Risk for bipolar disorder associated with faster aging

July 26, 2017
New King's College London research suggests that people with a family history of bipolar disorder may 'age' more rapidly than those without a history of the disease.

Team identifies mechanism for resilience in people with high risk of bipolar disorder

August 18, 2017
Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have identified a brain mechanism in siblings of bipolar patients that makes them resilient to bipolar disorder. The results suggest that the brain is able to adapt ...

Recommended for you

Researchers find way to convert bad body fat into good fat

September 19, 2017
There's good fat and bad fat in our bodies. The good fat helps burn calories, while the bad fat hoards calories, contributing to weight gain and obesity. Now, new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. ...

New model may help science overcome the brain's fortress-like barrier

September 19, 2017
Scientists have helped provide a way to better understand how to enable drugs to enter the brain and how cancer cells make it past the blood brain barrier.

Cell-based therapy success could be boosted by new antioxidant

September 19, 2017
Cell therapies being developed to treat a range of conditions could be improved by a chemical compound that aids their survival, research suggests.

Study suggests epilepsy drug can be used to treat form of dwarfism

September 19, 2017
A drug used to treat conditions such as epilepsy has been shown in lab tests at The University of Manchester to significantly improve bone growth impaired by a form of dwarfism.

Research predicts how patients are likely to respond to DNA drugs

September 19, 2017
Research carried out by academics at Northumbria University, Newcastle could lead to improvements in treating patients with diseases caused by mutations in genes, such as cancer, cystic fibrosis and potentially up to 6,000 ...

Urine output to disease: Study sheds light on the importance of hormone quality control

September 18, 2017
The discovery of a puddle of mouse urine seems like a strange scientific "eureka" moment.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

guiding_light
not rated yet Mar 10, 2009
I think older fathers being less involved with nurturing children is a more logical correlation, than accumulated mutations. The accumulated mutations should be linked to general birth defects, for example.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.