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Parental age

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?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests a significant, medium-sized effect of increased odds of affective psychosis (including bipolar disorder) in people whose mother was 34 years or older at their birth, compared to mothers who were younger than 34 years at their birth.

There were significant, small effects of increased odds of bipolar disorder in people whose father was aged between 31-44 years or 51-55 years at their birth compared to fathers aged 21-25 years. There were no differences in one study for any paternal age group when using 25-29 years as the comparison group.

June 2020

Last updated at: 12:26 am, 25th June 2020
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

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Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.