bipolar disorder, Dr. Paul Markovitz  Q. my concern is that my partner was diagnosed with bipolar a year ago and I have two children. I'm wondering whether they are likely to get this illness later on in life. My son who is three also is developmentally delayed and I'm wondering if this will be a contributing factor to him being prone to the disorder.

  A. Bipolar is a genetic disorder, but most folks do not get bipolar illness. Surprisingly, most individuals with bipolar parents only have depression. The reasons for this are not clear. Obviously you want to keep an eye on the children, and if they develop any signs or symptoms of depression, mania, learning problems, eating problems or conduct problems, have them assessed by a physician.

Any learning disability puts an individual at higher statistical risk for a mental disorder. This is a statistic, not a fact that it will happen. Keep an eye on your child, and if there are problems like those above, have a professional assess him.