Machine learning system can predict bipolar disorder 4 years before it manifests in young people

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Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.Sep 15 2020
An international team of doctors have developed a machine learning system which can predict the development of Bipolar Disorder up to 4 years before onset in young people: at age 18 it was able to predict which individuals would develop the condition at age 22. This work is presented at the ECNP virtual congress, and is in press with a peer-reviewed journal.


“This may be a new additional tool for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder; this will not replace a doctor’s diagnosis, but may allow them to take preventative measures to slow or avoid the onset of the condition, and so gain 4 years of preventative treatment.”

Francisco Diego Rabelo-da-Ponte, Lead Researcher, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul


The researchers, from Brazil, Canada and the USA, followed 3810 individuals born in Pelotas, Brazil, in 1993, taking measurements and interviews at the ages of 11, 15, 18 and 22. The study was looking at general health from birth, but has had a particular application in mental health. At the end of the 22 year follow up, 255 of the people in the study (6.7%) had received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Lead researcher Francisco Diego Rabelo-da-Ponte, from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil …

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