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J Psychiatr Res. 2005 Nov;39(6):611-22.

Clinical correlates of bipolar disorder in a large, referred sample of children and adolescents.

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Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



To compare the prevalence, clinical correlates, and comorbidity among children and adolescents with bipolar disorder (BPD) assessed in the early 1990s (first cohort) with those evaluated over the last 7 years (second cohort).


Subjects were consecutively referred children (N=108) and adolescents (N=197) with a DSM-III-R BPD diagnosis, referred to a child psychiatry service and evaluated with identical structured assessment methods.


Mania was identified in 16% of referred youth in both age groups and cohorts; in both age groups and cohorts, the clinical picture was predominantly irritable and mixed, and the course was chronic. Youth with BPD in both age groups and cohorts frequently had comorbidity with ADHD, psychosis and anxiety disorders. They also had high rates of psychiatric hospitalization and evidence of severely impaired psychosocial functioning.


The consistency of clinical features of bipolar disorder seen across age groups (children vs. adolescents) and cohorts (early and late cohorts) over the past decade supports the hypothesis that BPD in the young is a severe condition afflicting a sizeable minority of referred youth. These findings replicate and extend our previous characterization of an early onset mania, which may represent a developmental subtype of BPD.

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