Children of older fathers more likely to have bipolar disorder

Sep 01, 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: A better way to track emerging cell therapies using MRIs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team improves solar-cell efficiency

13 hours ago

New light has been shed on solar power generation using devices made with polymers, thanks to a collaboration between scientists in the University of Chicago's chemistry department, the Institute for Molecular ...

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

13 hours ago

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

Alibaba surges in Wall Street debut

13 hours ago

A buying frenzy sent Alibaba shares sharply higher Friday as the Chinese online giant made its historic Wall Street trading debut.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

13 hours ago

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Recommended for you

A better way to track emerging cell therapies using MRIs

13 hours ago

Cellular therapeutics – using intact cells to treat and cure disease – is a hugely promising new approach in medicine but it is hindered by the inability of doctors and scientists to effectively track the movements, destination ...

New biomedical implants accelerate bone healing

20 hours ago

A major success in developing new biomedical implants with the ability to accelerate bone healing has been reported by a group of scientists from the Department of Restorative Dentistry, University of Malaya. ...

User comments : 1

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.