April 04, 2010
Mental Ilness In Offspring Of Mentally Ill

Choose your parents carefully. High rates of schizophrenia and bipolar among the offspring in Denmark.

Rates of schizophrenia were highest among offspring of two parents with schizophrenia. Of the 196 couples who both had schizophrenia, 27.3 percent of their 270 children were admitted to a psychiatric facility, increasing to 39.2 percent when schizophrenia-related disorders were included. This compared with a rate of 7 percent among 13,878 offspring of 8,006 couples in which one parent had schizophrenia and 0.86 percent in 2.2 million offspring of 1 million couples in which neither parent was admitted for schizophrenia.

Similarly, the risk of bipolar disorder was 24.9 percent in 146 offspring of 83 parent couples who were both admitted for bipolar disorder (increasing to 36 percent when unipolar depressive disorder was also included). This compared to a risk of 4.4 percent among 23,152 offspring of 11,995 couples with only one parent ever admitted for bipolar disorder and 0.48 percent in 2.2 million children of 1 million couples with neither parent ever admitted.

When one parent had bipolar disorder and the other had schizophrenia, offspring had a 15.6 percent risk of schizophrenia and an 11.7 percent risk of bipolar disorder.

Identification of all the genetic variants that cause schizophrenia and bipolar will open up the possibility of the mentally ill using in vitro fertilization, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and embryo selection to avoid passing along some of their genetic variants that cause mental illness. However, since some of those genetic variants might boost some forms of mental creativity we might collectively lose something. Perhaps genes that boost creativity without boosting mental illness will be found. Or perhaps some genetic variants stabilize personality in the presence of other genes that boost mental illness risks and creativity.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 April 04 06:21 PM  Brain Disorders

Fat Man said at April 4, 2010 6:43 PM:

"the possibility of the mentally ill using in vitro fertilization"

Randall: These are people who have trouble with the concept of taking their medicine everyday.

Lono said at April 5, 2010 8:14 AM:

Soo... Denmark and similar countries are at higher risk presumably because of their high standard of state provided healthcare and social net?

That does seem to be a problem with Socialism for sure - although Denmark - in particular - still ranks as the happiest country on Earth for I think the last decade or so...

Having many relatives in Denmark myself, and having visited their often as a child, I can confirm it is a pretty idyllic environment they have created - however we can see here perhaps how such an egalitarian society is allowing for less environmentally fit phenotypes to artificially thrive.

In the long run this is probably going to force them to make some difficult choices regarding who ,ay or may not have children.

Perhaps technological advances will allow for them to pre-emptively avoid children with these disabilities - but as Fat Man said above - that would like only work if imposed by the state.

random said at April 5, 2010 11:38 AM:

Regardless of genetics, children raised by schizophrenics or bipolars are likely to have some psychological problems in their future. A significant portion of an adults mental state is based upon their early childhood experiences.

Sycamore said at April 5, 2010 6:32 PM:

^ Data would be more impressive than dogma. The dogma is probably false, see Judith Rich Harris. According to her countless studies of the effect of parents on children failed to control for the effects of genetic commonality, which is a ludicrous shortcoming.

John Moore said at April 12, 2010 9:30 PM:

Since about 30% of schizophrenia is strongly correlated with one Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (a single bit error in DNA), it is hardly surprising that it has a significant heritable component.

Chelsea Revoir PLU said at January 27, 2011 2:30 PM:

What is the closest percentage of people with mental retardation as a whole passing it along to their children? If both parents have been diagnosed as mentally retarded, and if only one has been diagnosed? Does gender make a difference in this percentage?

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