Mothers’ Mental Disorders Is Not Linked to Type 1 Diabetes in Offspring

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Mothers with mood disorders—either bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder— or schizophrenia/ schizoaffective disorder are not associated with their offspring’s risk for type 1 diabetes. Results suggest mothers with bipolar disorder tend to develop type 1 diabetes, but data is not clinically significant.

A mother with mood disorders and schizophrenia is not significantly linked with the risk of their offspring developing type 1 diabetes, according to a new study.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease with onset in early childhood, including symptoms of hypoglycemia, weight loss, and ketoacidosis. A common pathology includes the autoimmune destruction of islet β-cells. Since maternal immune or cytokine changes can be transferred to the fetus through the placenta, mothers with psychiatric disorders—recognized as disorders of immune and inflammatory dysregulation—could increase the risk of type 1 diabetes for their offspring.

Findings from previous studies have suggested individuals with type 1 diabetes could have an increased risk for developing psychiatric disorders, but not many studies have studied the reverse: psychiatric disorders linking to offspring type 1 diabetes risks.

A new mother-infant dyad study, led by Yi-Chun Liu, of the department of psychiatry at Changhua Christian Children’s Hospital in Changhua, Taiwan, sought to find out whether mothers with bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder led to the risk of type 1 diabetes in their offspring.

The investigators collected data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database and the Maternal and Child Health Database from 2004 – 2018 and identified 2,556,640 mother-child pairs—and 76,239 children were born to mothers with major psychiatric disorders. Of these children, 8322 had mothers with bipolar disorder, 4014 had mothers with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders, and 71,170 had mothers with major depressive disorder. The team compared offspring’s mothers with mood disorders and schizophrenia and mothers without. The control group consisted of 2,480,401 children who had mothers without a psychiatric disorder. About half (52%) in both the exposure and control groups were boys.

Liu and colleagues did not observe significant differences between the risk of type 1 diabetes in the offspring of mothers with major psychiatric disorders and mothers without (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] of 0.86 (95% CI, 0.58 – 1.24). In the subgroup analysis, the team found an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.81 for bipolar disorder mothers increasing type 1 diabetes risk to offspring (95% CI, 0.83 – 2.82) and an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.87 for depressive disorders (95% CI, 0.59 – 1.25). The team could not get an adjusted hazard ratio for mothers with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder group because they had less than 3 offspring with type 1 diabetes.

Ultimately, the type 1 diabetes risk in offspring of mothers with mood disorders and schizophrenia was not significant. Though children born to mothers with bipolar disorder often tend to develop type 1 diabetes.

“In subgroup analysis, the point estimate of HR of [type 1 diabetes] in children born to mothers with bipolar disorder was clinically meaningful (aHR: 1.81), although not statistically significant,” the investigators wrote.

Overall, there had been a low prevalence of type 1 diabetes (0.05%) in the study, as well as a low fertility rate in mothers with bipolar disorders, which could have affected the data’s lack of significance.

“On the other hand, no association was observed between maternal major depressive disorder and the risk of [type 1 diabetes] in offspring,” the investigators wrote. “It was difficult to estimate whether the risk of [type 1 diabetes] in offspring was associated with the presence of schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder in the mother because of the rare event of [type 1 diabetes] and the limited sample size of this subgroup.”


Liu YC, Liao YT, Chen VC, Chen YL. Association Between Maternal Mood Disorders and Schizophrenia and the Risk of Type 1 Diabetes in Offspring: A Nationwide Cohort Study. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2023;19:2511-2518. Published 2023 Nov 20. doi:10.2147/NDT.S437430