Lithium appears to be both safe and effective for the management of bipolar I disorder symptoms in pediatric populations, a recently published study from Pediatrics confirms.
Lead author Dr. Robert L. Findling of Johns Hopkins University and his associates conducted a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled outpatient trial, gathering data from 153 participants between the ages of 7 and 17 with bipolar I disorder/manic or mixed episodes. Among the participants, 81 were randomized to receive lithium (n = 53) or placebo (n = 28), for up to 8 weeks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder were assessed using the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) score.
Ultimately, the study found that lithium was effective in reducing manic symptoms in nearly one-half (47%) of these participants, with Overall Clinical Global Impression–Improvement scores favoring lithium (n = 25; 47% very much/much improved), compared with placebo (n = 6; 21% very much/much improved) after 8 weeks. The researchers also noted that lithium use was not associated with weight gain, although they observed a statistically significant increase in thyrotropin concentration among the lithium group. Nausea, headache, and vomiting were the most common side effects.
“This study provides evidence to support the efficacy of lithium in the acute treatment of youths with [bipolar I disorder] who are currently in a manic or mixed state. Lithium had an adverse effect profile that was acceptable for most patients,” the authors wrote.
Read the full article in Pediatrics.