A recent study suggests that lithium is both safe and effective for children suffering from bipolar disorder.
Lithium has long been used to treat a wide variety of mental disorders, but was met with varying degrees of success. According to a report from UPI, however, a recent study examining the effects and risks of lithium treatment in children with bipolar disorder suggests that not only is the medication safe, it is also effective.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University noted that even though lithium has been used to treat children and teens in the past, there was a lack of available research on the risks and effects. Children with bipolar disorder were commonly treated with drugs intended for schizophrenia and other conditions.
According to Dr. Robert Findling, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor at the JHU School of Medicine, “Lithium is the grandfather of all treatments for bipolar disorder, but it has never been rigorously studied in children.”
The study examined 81 patients between the ages of 7 and 17 who were receiving treatment at nine different facilities. 53 of the patients received up to eight weeks of lithium treatment at a standard dose that was increased as various cases demanded, and the other 28 received a placebo treatment.
Using the Young Mania Rating Scale, researchers tracked the patients’ reactions as well as other side effects like weight gain, which is common with other treatments for bipolar disorder.
The study found that 47 percent of patients who received lithium were considered “much improved” or “very much improved” on the Clinical Global Impressions Scale. On average, their scores on the YMRS dropped six points.
There were also no dangerous side effects noticed by the researchers in the study.