Bipolar Disorder in Children Is Persistent and Familial - Medscape Two studies have clarified the characteristics and course of bipolar 1 disorder (BP1) in children, and have found a strong familial association and a high level of persistence as children mature. The studies were presented here at the 23rd European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress. Hagop Akiskal, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego, and director of the International Mood Center there, commented on the topic. "The earlier the onset of bipolar illness, the more likely it is to be highly genetic. Children often have parents who are also ill. In fact, while the most heritable mental illness is autism, bipolar disorder is second. In contrast, it is almost never genetically based when diagnosed at, say, age 65. It is also true that bipolar disorder does not fully remit at any age. There is always some residual illness, as patients continue to have some oscillation of mood, and euthymia is very rare."