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Children of older fathers more likely to have bipolar disorder

Older paternal age has previously been associated with a higher risk of schizophrenia and autism in offspring, but a report in this month's issue of Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that bipolar disorder can now be added to this list.  

Bipolar is a common, severe mood disorder involving episodes of mania and depression. Other than a family history of psychotic disorders, few risk factors for the condition have been identified.

Emma M Frans of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden found that "the offspring of men 55 years and older were 1.37 times more likely to be diagnosed as having bi-polar disorder than the offspring of men aged 20-24 years."

If the offspring had early-onset bipolar disorder (diagnosed before 20) they were even more likely to have an older father.

The authors suggest that DNA copy errors that occur as men age is the reason, and that there is likely to be a genetic link between advancing age and other disorders.