Objectives: To assess aggression, irritability and hostility in children at risk for bipolar disorder (BP).
Methods: Using the parent and the child versions of the Children's Hostility Inventory (CHI), we assessed aggression, hostility, and irritability in 300 offspring aged 6–18 years old of BP parents and 169 children of community controls.
Results: Children of BP parents have significantly higher scores on the total CHI and its subscales than do children of control parents. After adjusting for demographic variables, both parents’ non-BP psychopathology, child psychopathology, and within-family correlations, three factors remain significant: total CHI by parent rating, irritability subscale by parent rating, and irritability by child self-report. The hostility subscale by parent rating became a trend.
Conclusions: Children of BP parents score higher on ratings of hostility and irritability than children of community control parents, independent of child psychopathology and non-BP parental psychopathology. Follow-up of these children to evaluate whether these symptoms are markers for the development of BP or mood disorders is warranted.