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The Odds On Crazy Parents Producing Crazy Kids

In yesterday’s blog post I dished out a statistic regarding the schizophrenic children of schizophrenic parents. This could have meant that only one of the parents was schizophrenic. What we didn’t consider was whether the likelihood increased if both parents were labeled schizophrenic. According to an article in Science Daily, Offspring of two patients have increased risk of developing mental disorders, having two crazy parents does indeed increase the chance that junior will be crazy as a coot, too.

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.

Turning these statistics back on their feet, and righting them, as would only be fitting, this means 73% of the children produced by two schizophrenic parents were given no schizophrenic disorder label. More perturbing is the 39.2 stat dealing with schizophrenia-related disorders, 61% of children with two parents labeled schizophrenic, of the study group, had no schizophrenia related disorder label attached to them. Given one parent that was coo-coo, there was a 93% chance of not winding up with another loony bird in the family. When neither parent was labeled a nut job, there was less than 1% chance that their mating would produce another psych ward inmate.

The researchers also looked into the % of children of bipolar labeled parents that received the same label.

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.

Funny thing, antidepressants used in the treatment of unipolar depressive disorder have been know to spur the development of bipolar disorder. I would suggest, given this spike, detoxifying would be a better approach to treatment than moving up to the more severe diagnosis, the more dangerous drugs, and the less promising prognosis.

Want to get confused? The researchers also looked into % children labeled who had cross diagnostically labeled parents.

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.

This translates into a roughly 84% chance of not having a child with the schizophrenia label, and an 88% of having a child who wasn’t labeled bipolar.

I suggest that an over reliance on the part of a few long suffering families on psychiatrists and psychiatry has much to do with why these rates are so high in some families. Maybe, as Dr. Steven and Dr. Sylvia Wolin suggested, looking at the kids who don’t go bonkers can teach us a thing or two about the differences in perspective and attitude between those who don’t catch “mental illness’ and their less stable siblings.

If you were to ask for my advice on how to read this kind of research, I’d say don’t read too much into it. This is a lot like safe driving, and traffic fatality information. You don’t want to become a statistic yourself if you can possibly help it, and according to most experts in the field, you can help it.

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