First Test of Pediatric Medication for Bipolar Disorder The diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children still provokes controversy a decade or more after its initial introduction into the medical world. There are two major problems involved in the issue. The first is refining the definition of bipolar disorder in children. The second is whether children and adolescents should be treated with the same medications as adults who have bipolar disorder .

A recent issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry reports on the results of a double-blind, randomized study that tests not only the effectiveness of the drug Olanzapine for children with bipolar disorder , but also the safety of this drug. The study, which recruited participants from 26 states and Puerto Rico, had 161 children with bipolar disorder involved. One group, with 106 children was administered olanzapine. Another 54 children with bipolar disorder were given a placebo. The drug reduced the Young Mania Rate Scale scores associated with bipolar disorder as well as a higher rate of symptom remission. However, olanzapine was not without safety problems for these children with bipolar disorder . One of the primary problems was weight gain and metabolism issues. Those youth with bipolar disorder who used the drug gained a little more than eight pounds. In fact, nearly 42 percent of those children with bipolar disorder who took the medication gained weight compared to those children who took the placebo.

But that's not the only health concern for children with bipolar disorder who took this drug. Olanzapine also appeared to raise levels of fasting glucose as well as lipids. While most of these increases did not reach clinically significant levels, nearly a quarter of the adolescents with bipolar disorder possessed borderline to high levels of triglycerides at some point during the study period. The findings of this study clearly point to the effectiveness as olanzapine for use in children with bipolar disorder.

But this study also clearly indicates some adverse side effects on those with bipolar disorder as well. This study on pediatric medication for bipolar disorder certainly raises some serious questions on the risks involved regarding the long-term consequences of obesity insulin resistance as well as cardiovascular disease in children. The results though may also help professionals treating youth with bipolar disorder. Currently, there is only one medication approved for children with bipolar disorder. All other medications that are given to children with bipolar disorder are designed and have been tested on adults.