Psychopathology in children of bipolar parents

Division of Bipolar Disorders Research, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Journal of Affective Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.71). 09/2007; 102(1-3):131-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2007.01.004
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Few studies have examined the psychopathological profiles of child offspring of bipolar parents. Such investigations are useful as a first step to identifying potential prodromal manifestations of bipolar disorder.
The presence of psychopathology in 37 children with at least one parent with bipolar I disorder and 29 demographically matched children with parents free of any DSM-IV Axis I psychopathology was evaluated using the Washington University in St. Louis Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (WASH-U KSADS).
Twenty-nine (78%) of 37 high-risk children were diagnosed with at least one DSM-IV Axis I diagnosis as compared to seven (24%) of 29 children of healthy control parents (Fisher's exact test, p < 0.0001, odds ratio=11, 95% CI=3.33, 33). Sixteen percent (N=6) of high-risk offspring met DSM-IV criteria for bipolar I disorder as compared to none of the healthy control offspring (Fisher's exact test, p < 0.03). High-risk offspring also had statistically significant elevations in rates of other affective and disruptive behavior disorders as well as subsyndromal manifestations of psychopathology.
Children of bipolar parents had an elevated risk for developing bipolar and other psychiatric disorders. The study of children of bipolar parents who are at high risk for developing bipolar disorder themselves is essential to identify potential prodromal manifestations of the disorder and to eventually establish targeted early intervention strategies. Longitudinal studies to confirm the prodromal manifestations of bipolar disorder and risk factors associated with the development of specific diagnoses in children are needed.

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