Parental age at birth

How is parental age related to bipolar disorder?

There have been claims that advanced parental age may be a risk factor for the development of mental disorders in the offspring. Commonly offered explanations have been the occurrence of germline mutations in older adults and/or psychological factors such as earlier than normal parental death experienced at a vulnerable age. Pinpointing the age at which parenthood may be associated with a significantly higher risk of bipolar disorder could be useful knowledge for potential parents, particularly if there is a pre-existing increased genetic risk of developing the disorder.

What is the evidence regarding parental age as a risk factor for bipolar disorder?

High quality evidence finds a small increase in the odds of bipolar disorder in people whose father was aged over 40 years at their birth.

Moderate to low quality evidence finds a significant, medium-sized increase in the odds of affective psychosis (including bipolar disorder) in people whose mother was over 34 years at their birth.

October 2021

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Last updated at: 5:06 pm, 21st April 2022
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Parental age

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