A recent multi-medical-center study of young patients living with bipolar disorder indicates that lithium can be safely and effectively used to treat children with the condition.
The study was led by a researcher at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. The results were published this week in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers said physicians can, with confidence, add lithium to the treatment regimens of pediatric bipolar sufferers, at least on a short-term basis.
While the drug has been used for some time to stabilize the moods of adult patients, it has never before been extensively tested on younger patients.
"Lithium is the grandfather of all treatments for bipolar disorder, but it has never been rigorously studied in children," Dr. Robert Findling, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
Findling launched the study while serving as director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
Findling and his colleagues performed a randomized, placebo-controlled prospective study, during which 81 patients were seen at nine academic medical centers across the United States. There were equal numbers of male and female test subjects ranging in age from 7-17.
Fifty-three subjects were administered a regimen of lithium over eight weeks; 28 were given placebos. Results indicated that the patients on lithium experienced significantly more improvement in their symptoms.
Study indicates lithium safe, effective in treating bipolar children