Psychopathology in offspring of mothers with borderline personality disorder: a pilot study

Can J Psychiatry. 1996 Jun;41(5):285-90. doi: 10.1177/070674379604100505.


Objective: Children of mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD) were hypothesized to be at greater risk for psychopathology, particularly impulse spectrum disorders, than children of mothers with other personality disorders.

Method: Twenty-one index children were compared with 23 children of mothers with a nonborderline personality disorder. Diagnoses were obtained using the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia-Episodic Version (KSADS-E) and the Child Diagnostic Interview for BPD (CDIB), and functioning was rated with the Child Global Assessment Schedule (CGAS). Physical, sexual, and verbal abuse, as well as family violence and placements, were also assessed.

Results: The children of the borderline mothers, as compared with controls, had more psychiatric diagnoses, more impulse control disorders, a higher frequency of child BPD, and lower CGAS scores. There were no differences between the groups for trauma.

Conclusion: The offspring of borderline mothers are at high risk for psychopathology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / genetics*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / genetics*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment