An Interview on Pregnancy and Bipolar Disorder with Dr. Itzkoff Featured on

Bipolar Disorder and Pregnancy (Part 1 of 2)

Today, I am publishing the first of a two-part interview with Dr. Amanda Itzkoff, MD, about bipolar disorder and pregnancy. I am often asked about this subject and, since I am not a doctor nor a woman, I decided it was a good idea to seek the knowledge of a trained medical professional. bipolar disorder

How do you advise women when they ask about the possibility of passing bipolar disorder on to their children?

Bipolar disorder is heritable (passed on in genes) to some degree. But inheritance patterns are complex. Multiple genes appear to be involved and we don’t yet know all of them or how they increase the likelihood of developing the illness. Some of these genes don’t code for bipolar disorder specifically, but increase the likelihood of developing mood disorders (like depression). A child born of a parent (mother or father) who has bipolar disorder will have an increased risk of having a mood disorder (seemingly about 10% for bipolar and 50% for depression).

Though there is some discrepancy in data, it is understood that the more family members one has with bipolar disorder, and the closer the relative, the greater the risk.  Risks are greater when both parents have bipolar disorder.

When mothers with bipolar disorder are thinking of having a child, their illness is usually quite stable. If you have managed your own illness, you may have some unique advantages in detecting a mood disorder in your child and knowing what to do about it.

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