Bipolar disorder in children - brain abnormalities
Professor Judith Rapoport discusses her research group's finding that children with bipolar disorder have abnormal brain development.
We have a study on bipolar children, and in fact whatâ€™s unique about our study is that the children were sent to us because they were thought possibly to have schizophrenia. When we met them, this was a group of children who were very impulsive. They occasionally had very brief signs, like hearing voices or seeing things, but it was very brief, five minutes per month, and their thinking was clear and they related to people in a very ordinary way. This group of children we followed because we wanted to make sure that we had turned them down from our study correctly, so we saw them every two years over about a ten year period. And so, because of this, and to our surprise, about half of this group we were following became classic bipolar cases. We had their brain development at the same time we had children with schizophrenia, and they had a much more subtle kind of abnormality in the brain, and they were taking very similar medications to the schizophrenic children, so you always worry if something could be the result of a treatment for a disorder. For example, could anything abnormal that you see in the brain scan be because of the drug someone is on and not because of their illness? But since they were on the same drugs, weâ€™re pretty sure that this is because they had a different diagnosis. And itâ€™s more subtle, it was more on one side of the brain than the other (the abnormalities), and much, much less marked than what you saw with the schizophrenics. It was not a large group, however, and we havenâ€™t pursued this.
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