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Pediatrics. 2009 Mar;123(3):e446-52. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-0841.

Quality of life in pediatric bipolar disorder.

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  • 1University of North Carolina, Department of Psychology, CB3270, Davie Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270, USA.



Bipolar disorder is a common mood disorder associated with significant disability and impairment in quality of life in adults. Little research has examined the impact of the disorder on quality of life in children and adolescents. The current study examines the quality of life in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder compared with other physical and psychiatric illnesses.


This study included 529 youth and caregiver pairs who sought services at a community mental health center or an academic medical center. Diagnoses were based on semistructured interviews of caregivers and youths, and quality of life was determined by the parent-reported Revised Children Quality of Life Questioinnaire (KINDL) questionnaire and compared with published benchmarks for many medical illnesses.


Mean age of the youths was 12.0 years, 57% were boys, 72% were black, 22% were white, and 17% had received bipolar disorder diagnoses. Youths with bipolar disorder had significantly lower quality-of-life scores than youths with asthma, atopic dermatitis, obesity, arthritis, oxygen dependence, heart surgery during infancy, depression, behavior disorders, and nonmood and nonbehavior psychiatric diagnoses.


Youths with bipolar disorder reported lower quality of life than other youths encountered in pediatric practice. Pediatricians should attend not only to the child's mood symptoms but also to the overall impairment of the disorder.

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