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November 7, 2007

Bipolar Disorder and Attitudes Toward Having Children

A new study out of Australia which will appear in the journal Psychological Medicine has found that over a third of relatives of people with bipolar disorder are afraid to have children. The reason for their fear seems mainly to be stigma associated with the disorder.

Despite a lower risk as compared to other genetic disorders, bipolar disorder aroused a more negative attitude from the 200 people who participated in the study, which was conducted at University of New South Wales. Even more surprising is that over half of the participants suffer from bipolar disorder themselves. Researchers state that studies on other hereditary diseases such as cancer do not demonstrate any significant difference of attitudes toward having children even though the genetic risks are much higher than for bipolar disorder. They state the importance of education for people suffering from and/or with a family history of bipolar disorder. One researcher states that "(p)roviding families with genetic risk information is important, but this study suggests that society as a whole needs to be better educated about mental health disorders, and in particular the effective treatments available for these."

Full Story:The Sydney Morning Herald, Too scared to have children

Related Research Article:Attitudes towards childbearing, causal attributions for bipolar disorder and psychological distress: a study of families with multiple cases of bipolar disorder, MEISER B et al(2007). Psychological Medicine, 37: 1601-1611.

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