(MENAFN- Al-Anbaa) Lithium was found in a recent study to be safe and effective for treating bipolar disorder in children, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reported.
Although the researchers note that lithium has been used with children and teenagers, the lack of significant studies kept the drug from being used widely. Instead, many younger bipolar disorder patients have been treated with drugs meant for schizophrenia or other conditions that carry unwanted side effects.
"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 the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a press release.
The researchers worked with 81 patients between ages 7 and 17 being treated at nine medical centers. For up to eight weeks of treatment, 53 received lithium at a standard dose that was increased over time if symptoms demanded it, while the other 28 were being treated with a placebo.
The participants' reaction to treatment was measured using the Young Mania Rating Scale, and researchers also tracked side effects such as weight gain, which is expected with other standard forms of drug treatment for bipolar disorder.
With lithium, patients' scores on the YMRS dropped on average six points more than those not receiving the drug. On the Clinical Global Impressions Scale, 47 percent of patients who received lithium also were graded as "much improved" or "very much improved," as opposed to 21 percent of those who received a placebo.
Lithium also was found not to cause serious side effects in the participants who received it, nor significant weight gain seen during the trial period - which would be expected with other anti-psychotic drugs such as risperidone or olanzapine.
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