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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2007 Apr;75(2):210-20.

Can bipolar disorder-specific neuropsychological impairments in children be identified?

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Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


This study examined neuropsychological deficits among children with bipolar disorder while attending to its comorbidity with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Seventy-three unmedicated children (ages 6-17 years) with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 1994) bipolar disorder plus ADHD (BPD + ADHD) were compared with 102 unmedicated children with ADHD without bipolar disorder, and 120 children without bipolar disorder or ADHD. Ninety-four percent of participants were Caucasian, 58% were male, and 42% were female. On average participants were of middle to upper socioeconomic status. Participants were assessed with a comprehensive neuropsychological battery and measures of academic achievement, school failure, and special education placement. Participants with BPD + ADHD and with ADHD were impaired in interference control, verbal learning, and arithmetic achievement and had higher rates of special school services. Across all of the measures of neuropsychological functioning, the only difference observed between youths with BPD + ADHD and youths with ADHD was that youths with BPD + ADHD performed more poorly on one measure of processing speed. Thus, comorbidity with ADHD may account for many of the neuropsychological deficits observed in children with bipolar disorder.

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