Bipolar Parents and Children With Asthma

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Studies from mental health experts suggest that there may be a direct correlation between mothers with mental health issues and their children developing respiratory problems, but pinpointing bipolar parents and children with asthma is a little more difficult. As most scientists agree, a correlation does not necessarily point to absolute causation.

Bipolar Disorder and Asthma

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that is characterized by manic swings in behavior. Many people with bipolar disorder alternate back and forth from euphoria to depression. Prescription drugs can assist bipolar individuals in maintaining a consistent behavior.

Asthma is a condition that affects the airways and can make it very difficult to breathe. Although many people control their asthma effectively with medication, it can still be a life-threatening condition.

Maternal Connection

Many studies conducted regarding the correlation between parents with mental disorders and offspring with respiratory issues often point to connections between the mother and children. The mental issues of the mother appear to be more closely associated with respiratory issues in the children as opposed to a correlation between fathers and children. Studies also suggest that the link is a genetic link as opposed to an environmental one. In other words, the correlation stems from an inherited physical trait as opposed to something that develops over time as a result of the environment and stressors within the home.

The connection between bipolar fathers and children with asthma has not been discounted however, as studies continue to be conducted regarding this topic. It's also important to note that women have a higher incidence rate of bipolar disorder than men, so this may have something to do with the maternal connection.


How do researchers know that there is a genetic connection? In order to figure out if bipolar parents and children with asthma have a genetic link in the correlation, the researchers utilize a proven method in their studies: they study biological children of bipolar parents along with adopted children of bipolar parents. If both sets of children exhibit symptoms of asthma then the assumption is made that it's an environmental cause. If, on the other hand, only the biological children exhibit symptoms of asthma then the assumption is that there must be a genetic cause for the asthma.

Other Theories

Some researchers suggest that high levels of cortisol within bipolar parents may have something to do with the genetic connection. Coritsol is a hormone that increases throughout the body during high periods of stress. Bipolar parents may have higher levels of cortisol, but this connection can be confusing considering many asthmatics are actually treated with cortisol-based medications when their asthma flairs up.

Correlation of Bipolar Parents and Children with Asthma

Even though there is a demonstrated correlation between bipolar mothers and fathers and biological children with asthma, this is certainly not an absolute fact. Just because a parent is bipolar it does not guarantee that children will be asthmatic, and just because a child has asthma it does not mean the parents have bipolar disorder.

Additional Concerns

Children of parents with bipolar disorder may have a higher risk of having bipolar disorder as well as other issues such as Attention Deficit Disorder. In fact, the two conditions are often confused with each other when symptoms are exhibited in children, so it is important for therapists and psychologists to carefully review the symptoms before making a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or ADD.

Asthma in children is also frequently diagnosed incorrectly, so parents should take care to press for a proper diagnosis if asthma does quite seem to be the culprit. After all, bipolar parents are not doomed to have children with asthma. The respiratory problems can be caused by a variety of other factors.

Day to Day

Both bipolar disorder and asthma can be relatively well-controlled with the proper medication, but neither condition is characterized by commonly disappearing later in life. People with bipolar disorder and people with asthma must both take care to manage their conditions well.

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Bipolar Parents and Children With Asthma