Solar insolation in springtime influences age of onset of bipolar I disorder
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OBJECTIVE: To confirm prior findings that the larger the maximum monthly increase in solar insolation in springtime, the younger the age of onset of bipolar disorder. METHOD: Data were collected from 5536 patients at 50 sites in 32 countries on six continents. Onset occurred at 456 locations in 57 countries. Variables included solar insolation, birth-cohort, family history, polarity of first episode and country physician density. RESULTS: There was a significant, inverse association between the maximum monthly increase in solar insolation at the onset location, and the age of onset. This effect was reduced in those without a family history of mood disorders and with a first episode of mania rather than depression. The maximum monthly increase occurred in springtime. The youngest birth-cohort had the youngest age of onset. All prior relationships were confirmed using both the entire sample, and only the youngest birth-cohort (all estimated coefficients P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: A large increase in springtime solar insolation may impact the onset of bipolar disorder, especially with a family history of mood disorders. Recent societal changes that affect light exposure (LED lighting, mobile devices backlit with LEDs) may influence adaptability to a springtime circadian challenge.
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