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Want to know if you are at risk of bipolar disease? Scientists have identified several genes that may explain why children of patients with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
Researchers from University of Texas in the US analysed blood cells from a total of 18 children and adolescents in three groups: bipolar patients, unaffected offspring of bipolar parents and children of parents with no history of psychiatric disorders.
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The analysis showed that, compared to children in the control group, bipolar patients and unaffected offspring of bipolar parents had genetic alterations that can influence the response to stress.
“We’ve known that children of patients with bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing the illness but the biological mechanisms are largely unknown,” said Gabriel R Fries from University of Texas.
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“By analysing the blood of children of controls and comparing it to children of bipolar patients, we identified several genes or markers that can explain the increased risk,” Fries said.
“Bipolar parents may struggle because of their disease, leading to higher environmental stress. Their children, because of the genetic markers they have, could be more vulnerable to stress,” he said.
The genetic alterations that researchers discovered were validated in blood samples of unrelated adult bipolar patients.
The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.