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Older Fathers May Carry Increased Risk For Bipolar Disorder

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 02, 2008 12:52 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Bipolar Disorder, Mental Health, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Antidepressants

The age of the father may have to do with an increased risk of bipolar disorder.



 IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ older father and daughter/ author: junial


The age of a woman has always been thought to be a determinant, at least in part, to having a healthy baby.

Now the age of a father may be equally as important.

A new Swedish study from Karolinski Institute finds that older fathers, particularly those over the age of 55, are more likely to have children who develop bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.

The study, in the Archives of General Psychiatry, finds that the risk increases after the father reaches the age of 40. 

Among men 55 and older, the risk is 37 percent higher of fathering a child who eventually develops bipolar disorder when compared to fathers in their 20s.  

The offspring also faced a more than double the chance of developing bipolar disorder before the age of 20. Early onset on the disease has long been thought to have a genetic link.

Bipolar disorder often starts in late adolescence or early adulthood.

The leading theory is that sperm may be more likely to develop mutations as the man ages.

That might explain why the age of the mother does not seem to be much of a factor in developing bipolar disorder as much as it’s a factor in birth defects.

The researchers looked at a national registry data from more than 800,000 people. Among the people included were more than 13,000 with bipolar disorder who were born between 1932 and 1991.

The advanced age of the man is also linked to schizophrenia and autism.

The study authors say this should not dissuade older men from becoming fathers because the odds of becoming bipolar are very low.

Bipolar disorder affects more than five million Americans and is marked by dramatic mood swings, from a deep depression to an elated high.  

The risk of developing it over your lifetime are between one to four percent. #

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