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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2008;10(2):215-28.

Current research in child and adolescent bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University Hospitals Case Medical Center/Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-5080, USA. christine.demeter@UHhospitals.org


Although recently more research has considered children with bipolar disorder than in the past, much controversy still surrounds the validity of the diagnosis. Furthermore, questions remain as to whether or not childhood expressions of bipolarity are continuous with adult manifestations of the illness. In order to advance current knowledge of bipolar disorders in children, researchers have begun to conduct phenomenological, longitudinal, treatment, and neuroimaging studies in youths who exhibit symptoms of bipolar illness, as well as offspring of parents with bipolar disorders. Regardless of the differences between research groups regarding how bipolar disorder in children is defined, it is agreed that pediatric bipolarity is a serious and pernicious illness. With early intervention during the period of time in which youths are exhibiting subsyndromal symptoms of pediatric bipolarity, it appears that the progression of the illness to the more malignant manifestation of the disorder may be avoided. This paper will review what is currently known and what still is left to learn about clinically salient topics that pertain to bipolar disorder in children and adolescents.

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