The recent news that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder has increased 4,000 percent since 1994 caused some concern throughout the medical community.

Bipolar disorder was once thought to be a disease solely of adults. More specifically, most adults who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder were between the ages of 18 and 22. While some adults may find themselves with the symptoms of undiagnosed bipolar disorder at an older age, few doctors labeled children with bipolar disorder.

That all changed in 1994 when scientific researchers began to broaden the definition of bipolar disorder to include the behavior and mood swings of children. Apparently, the broader definition opened the floodgates. In 1994, the first year physicians began diagnosing children, some 20,000 youngsters were believed to have bipolar disorder.

By 2003, that number had skyrocketed to 800,000. The full economic benefit to the pharmaceutical companies for this enlarged definition of bipolar disorder is now only beginning to be felt. Sales of antipsychotic drugs - of which only one is presently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for children - have skyrocketed.

In the year 2003, approximately 89,000 prescriptions of the antipsychotic drug Geodon were written for children with bipolar disorder. The following year a whopping 251,000 prescriptions were being dispensed to children with bipolar disorder.

But Pfizer isn't the only company to benefit. Bristol-Myers's medication Abilify for children 18 years and younger was prescribed one million times between the years 2003 and 2006. During these same three years, the newly approved drug, Risperdal, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson for children with bipolar disorder grew in use by 58 percent to nearly 2 million prescriptions. AstraZeneca's antipsychotic medication Seroquel also experience a doubling of sales to children with bipolar disorder during this same time period, rising to one million prescriptions.

Former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Steven Hyman, now provost of Harvard University, says he worries about the increased use of antipsychotic medications for children who suffer with bipolar disorder. 'You're treating a young kid,' he explains, 'and it's a problem if you create obesity and risk of diabetes and metabolic disorders early in life.'