Children born to parents with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia more likely to suffer mental health issues by age 7 Interview with:
Merete Nordentoft DrMSc
Professor, chief Psychiatrist
University of Copenhagen
Mental Health Centre Copenhagen What is the background for this study?

Response: We knew that children born to parents with mental illness had an increased risk for developing a mental disorder them selves, either the same disorder as their parent or another menal disorder. We also knew that some of these children would have pootrt motor function and other difficulties in functioning. However previous studies were smaller, they were not based on a representative sample, and children were at different age. That is the background for The Danish High Risk and Resilience Study-VIA 7, in which a large group of 522 children and their families were thoroughly assessed. The children were seven year old, and 202 had a parent who had schizophrenia, 120 had a parent with bipolar disorder and 200 had parent with neither of these disorders. What are the main findings?

Response: A large proportion of the families wanted to participate and they complied well with the very extensive assessment battery. Even though we still have to finalise the analyses it is already clear that children with a parent who had schizophrenia were more likely to have psychiatric symptoms themselves already at age seven. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We find it important to realise that families with parent with mental disorders need more help. The parents need help to fulfill the role as a parent, and that help can be in form of training and support in parental skills, but in some cases compensatory interventions such as help to ensure that children can participate in the social activities together with their schoolmates. The children need help to understand their parents condition. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: A direct consequence of the study is that we will carry out a randomised clinical trials in which we investigate the effects of a programme, called VIA Family, which can support the families. Hopefully we can find flexible and acceptable ways to provide support for these families. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Associate professor Anne Thorup was the daily leader of the VIA 7 project and she will also lead the new intervention study VIA Family. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


2016 INTERNATIONAL EARLY PSYCHOSIS ASSOCIATION Conference abstract discussing:

Children born to parents with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia more likely to suffer mental health issues by age 7 years

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on

[wysija_form id=”5″]

Last Updated on October 21, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD