Influence of light exposure during early life on the age of onset of bipolar disorder

Michael Bauer, Tasha Glenn, Martin Alda, Ole A. Andreassen, Elias Angelopoulos, Raffaella Ardau, Christopher Baethge, Rita Bauer, Bernhard T. Baune, Frank Bellivier, Robert H. Belmaker, Michael Berk, Thomas D. Bjella, Letizia Bossini, Yuly Bersudsky, Eric Yat Wo Cheung, Jörn Conell, Maria del Zompo, Seetal Dodd, Bruno EtainAndrea Fagiolini, Mark A. Frye, Kostas N. Fountoulakis, Jade Garneau-Fournier, Ana Gonzalez-Pinto, John F. Gottlieb, Hirohiko Harima, Stefanie Hassel, Chantal Henry, Apostolos Iacovides, Erkki T. Isometsä, Flávio Kapczinski, Sebastian Kliwicki, Barbara König, Rikke Krogh, Ute Lewitzka, Carlos Lopez-Jaramillo, Glenda M. MacQueen, Mirko Manchia, Wendy Marsh, Mónica Martinez-Cengotitabengoa, Ingrid Melle, Scott Monteith, Gunnar Morken, Rodrigo Munoz, Fabiano G. Nery, Claire O'Donovan, Yamima Osher, Andrea Pfennig, Danilo Quiroz, Raj Ramesar, Natalie Rasgon, Andreas Reif, Philipp Ritter, Janusz K. Rybakowski, Kemal Sagduyu, Ângela M. Scippa, Emanuel Severus, Christian Simhandl, Dan J. Stein, Sergio Strejilevich, Ahmad Hatim Sulaiman, Kirsi Suominen, Hiromi Tagata, Yoshitaka Tatebayashi, Carla Torrent, Eduard Vieta, Biju Viswanath, Mihir J. Wanchoo, Mark Zetin, Peter C. Whybrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Environmental conditions early in life may imprint the circadian system and influence response to environmental signals later in life. We previously determined that a large springtime increase in solar insolation at the onset location was associated with a younger age of onset of bipolar disorder, especially with a family history of mood disorders. This study investigated whether the hours of daylight at the birth location affected this association.
Methods: Data collected previously at 36 collection sites from 23 countries were available for 3896 patients with bipolar I disorder, born between latitudes of 1.4N and 70.7N, and 1.2S and 41.3S. Hours of daylight variables for the birth location were added to a base model to assess the relation between the age of onset and solar insolation.
Results: More hours of daylight at the birth location during early life was associated with an older age of onset, suggesting reduced vulnerability to the future circadian challenge of the springtime increase in solar insolation at the onset location. Addition of the minimum of the average monthly hours of daylight during the first 3 months of life improved the base model, with a significant positive relationship to age of onset. Coefficients for all other variables remained stable, significant and consistent with the base model.
Conclusions: Light exposure during early life may have important consequences for those who are susceptible to bipolar disorder, especially at latitudes with little natural light in winter. This study indirectly supports the concept that early life exposure to light may affect the long term adaptability to respond to a circadian challenge later in life.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
VolumeIn Press
Early online date27 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of psychiatric research. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Bauer, M., Glenn, T., Alda, M., Andreassen, O. A., Angelopoulos, E., Ardau, R., ... Whybrow, P. C. (2015). Influence of light exposure during early life on the age of onset of bipolar disorder. Journal of psychiatric research, In Press (2015) DOI


  • bipolar disorder
  • hours of daylight
  • insolation
  • sunlight
  • age of onset


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