Smarter children could be more likely to develop bipolar disorder, scientists say

Those with higher 'manic features' tended to have IQs that were higher as children

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The Independent Online

Brighter children are more likely to develop bipolar disorder as they grow up, a new study has said.

Scientists from the Universities of Bristol, Glasgow, Cardiff and Texas have suggested that children who present a higher IQ at age eight are more like to exhibit signs of the mood disorder when they reach 22 or 23 years of age.

The research, which was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, followed 1,881 individuals. It tested their verbal and performance IQs at eight and “lifetime manic features” at 22.

Individuals who scored in the top 10 per cent of manic features had a mean childhood IQ almost 10 points higher than those scoring in the lowest 10 per cent of manic features.

Professor Daniel Smith, in the Institute of Health & Wellbeing at Glasgow, said: “A possible link between bipolar disorder and intelligence and creativity has been discussed for many years and many studies have suggested a link.

“In this large study, we found that better performance on IQ tests at age eight predicted bipolar features in young adulthood.”

He stressed that the study did not suggest that high IQ was “clear cut risk factor for bipolar disorder” but there was a “shared biology” between the two that need to be understood better.

Professor Smith said other factors such as a family history of mental illness, traumatic childhood events and drugs also play a part in the development of the condition.

Suzanne Hudson, Chief Executive of Bipolar UK, added: “Given the rise in requests for support from parents and families of children to Bipolar UK, research that helps identify young people more at risk of developing bipolar disorder is vitally important.”

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