The authors sought to identify diagnostic risk factors of manic, mixed, or hypomanic episodes in the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder. High-risk offspring 6-18 years old (N=391) and demographically matched offspring (N=248) of community parents without bipolar disorder were assessed longitudinally with standardized diagnostic instruments by staff blind to parental diagnoses. Follow-up assessments were completed in 91% of the offspring (mean follow-up interval, 2.5 years; mean follow-up duration, 6.8 years).
Compared with community offspring, high-risk offspring had significantly higher rates of subthreshold mania or hypomania (13.3% compared with 1.2%), manic, mixed, or hypomanic episodes (9.2% compared with 0.8%), and major depressive episodes (32.0% compared with 14.9%). They also had higher rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (30.7% compared with 18.1%), disruptive behavior disorders (27.4% compared with 15.3%), anxiety disorders (39.9% compared with 21.8%), and substance use disorders (19.9% compared with 10.1%), but not unipolar major depressive disorder (major depression with no bipolarity; 18.9% compared with 13.7%). In the high-risk offspring, subthreshold manic or hypomanic episodes, major depressive episodes, and disruptive behavior disorders were associated with subsequent manic, mixed, or hypomanic episodes.
The authors concluded that subthreshold manic or hypomanic episodes were a diagnostic risk factor for the development of manic, mixed, or hypomanic episodes in the offspring of parents with bipolar disorder and should be a target for clinical assessment and treatment research. Major depressive episodes and disruptive behavior disorders were also indications for close clinical monitoring of emergent bipolarity in high-risk offspring.
Axelson D, Goldstein B, Goldstein T, Monk K, Yu H, Hickey MB, Sakolsky D, Diler R, Hafeman D, Merranko J, Iyengar S, Brent D, Kupfer D, Birmaher B: Diagnostic Precursors to Bipolar Disorder in Offspring of Parents With Bipolar Disorder: A Longitudinal Study. Amer. J. Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print, Mar. 3, 2015; appiajp201414010035].

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