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Pediatric bipolar disorder: a review of the past 10 years.

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Pediatric Mood Disorders Clinic and Bipolar Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, 60612-7327, USA.



To review the literature of the past decade covering the epidemiology, clinical characteristics, assessment, longitudinal course, biological and psychosocial correlates, and treatment and prevention of pediatric bipolar disorder (BD).


A computerized search for articles published during the past 10 years was made and selected studies are presented.


Pediatric BD is increasingly recognized, and there are several prevailing views on core features of this disorder. The incidence and prevalence of the disorder and the associated comorbidities vary according to study setting and criteria used. This disorder is highly recurrent and accompanied by substantial psychiatric and psychosocial morbidity. Familial studies, including "top down" (offspring of parents with BD) and "bottom up" (relatives of youths with BD) studies indicate that pediatric BD is aggregated in families with adult or later-onset BD and suggest the existence of genetic predisposition. Greater understanding of the risk factors for early onset BD and recognition of the phenomenology of prodromal symptoms offers hope for early identification and prevention. Neuroimaging studies indicate frontotemporal and frontostriatal pathology, but none of these findings seems to be disorder specific. Combination pharmacotherapies appear promising, and the field awaits further short- and long-term randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Preliminary studies of various psychotherapies, including psychoeducation strategies tailored specifically for BD in youths, look encouraging.


Considerable advances have been made in our knowledge of pediatric BD; however, differing viewpoints on the clinical presentation of BD in children are the rule. Phenomenological and longitudinal studies and biological validation using genetic, neurochemical, neurophysiological, and neuroimaging methods may strengthen our understanding of the phenocopy. Randomized, controlled treatment studies for the acute and maintenance treatment of BD disorder are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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