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Clin Psychol Rev. 2008 Oct;28(7):1083-95. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2008.03.002. Epub 2008 Mar 17.

A review of potential cognitive and environmental risk markers in children of bipolar parents.

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  • 1Lancaster University, Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research, Institute for Health Research, Lancaster LA1 4YT, United Kingdom.


Although there is clear evidence that bipolar disorder runs in families, the mechanisms by which this illness is transmitted across generations are poorly understood. In particular, there has been limited consideration of nature of the psychosocial risk factors that might be present in offspring of bipolar parents and of how these factors might increase the likelihood of transition to illness. Recent research has begun to explore psychosocial factors in both healthy and diagnosed children of bipolar parents. This review explores the findings that have been obtained to date in terms of personality, cognitive functioning, life events and family factors. Three potential theoretical frameworks are then considered which might prove fruitful for facilitating theoretically driven empirical studies in this important area. Implications for future research and therapy are noted.

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