A new study on Bipolar Disorder reminds me that this might be a good time to raise some safety issues for parents about summer heat. But let’s start with the study. Mark Cowen writes:
Results from a Taiwanese study suggest that high daily temperatures are associated with increased hospitalization rates for mood symptoms among patients with bipolar disorder, particularly women.
The researchers found that the risk for hospitalization began to increase when the daily temperature rose above 24.0°C, and continued to increase with higher daily temperatures.
The results support “our hypothesis that environmental factors influenced bipolar disorder hospitalizations,” comment Huey-Jen Su and team from National Cheng Kung University in Tainan.
The researchers found that there was a significant positive association between increasing ambient temperature over 24.0°C and hospital admissions for bipolar disorder the following day.
Specifically, compared with a daily mean temperature ranging from 19.8 to 24.0°C, the relative risk for bipolar disorder admission increased 10%, 15%, 34%, and 51% when the daily mean temperature was over 24.0°C, 27.2°C, 29.0°C, and 30.7°C, respectively.
Read more on News-Medical.net
For those of us used to Fahrenheit:
24.0°C = 75.2°F
27.2°C = 80.96°F
29.0°C = 84.2°F
30.7°C = 87.26°F
Keep in mind that Taiwan’s average annual temperature is around 71.6°F, whereas there is more variability in the U.S., depending on where you live.
The finding that environmental temperature and climatic factors can influence neuropsychiatric disorders is certainly not new, and the relationship between mood disorders and seasonal changes is well documented. But’s not just Bipolar Disorder or mood disorder that’s susceptible to seasonal variations or climate effects. Back in the 1970′s, when I was conducting my doctoral dissertation, I had even noted the correlation between measures and specific environmental factors such as temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure in some patients who had been diagnosed with migraine headaches and/or Raynaud’s Syndrome, and individuals with other disorders may also experience impact from temperature or other climatic factors.
So how can you use this information?
First, if you are parenting a child with a neuropsychiatric disorder, remember to keep your child cool and well-hydrated and avoid over-exertion if it’s very hot out.
Third, be aware that some medications can make your child even more susceptible to heat stroke.
These concerns and precautions do not just apply to the current heat wave or summer or to kids or teens diagnosed with a mood disorder. In September, some of you will be sending your children back into hot school environments. Make sure you have appropriate accommodations and alerts in place to protect their safety.
Atypical Antipsychotic More Effective than Older Drugs in Treating Childhood Mania, but Side Effects Can Be Serious
While stimulant medications may not pose a serious risk of cardiac complications, atypical neuroleptics such as risperidone (Risperdal) are associated with serious risks of other types of problems.
The antipsychotic medication risperidone is more effective for initial treatment of mania in children diagnosed with bipolar disorder compared to other mood stabilizing medications, but it carries the potential for serious metabolic side effects, according to an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print January 2, 2012, in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Childhood bipolar disorder is a relatively rare but seriously impairing condition. It is also associated with an increased risk of substance use disorders and suicide. To treat symptoms of mania, a key symptom of the disorder, medications such as mood stabilizers or antipsychotics are often prescribed. However, no prior study has addressed the question of which medication to try first.
In the Treatment of Early Age Mania (TEAM) study, Barbara Geller, M.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues randomized 290 children ages 6-15 years diagnosed with bipolar I disorder (having mixed or manic symptoms) to treatment with lithium, divalproex sodium or risperidone for an 8-week trial. None of the children had taken an anti-manic medication before. Lithium has been used to treat bipolar disorder for many years. Divalproex sodium is an anticonvulsant mood stabilizer commonly prescribed to treat bipolar disorder as well. Risperidone is an atypical antipsychotic that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of mania in youth age 10 and older.
Results of the Study
After eight weeks, 68.5 percent of the children taking risperidone showed improvement in manic symptoms, compared to 35.6 percent of those taking lithium and 24 percent of those taking divalproex sodium. Overall, 24.7 percent discontinued the trial, but more children taking lithium—32.2 percent—discontinued the trial compared to those taking risperidone (15.7 percent discontinued) or divalproex sodium (26 percent discontinued.)
However, those taking risperidone also gained more weight than those on the other medications—an average of more than 7 lbs compared to around 3 lbs for those taking lithium and 3.7 lbs for those taking divalproex sodium. Those taking risperidone were also more likely to experience other metabolic side effects, such as an increase in cholesterol levels, compared to those on the other medications.
The researchers concluded that risperidone was significantly more effective than lithium or divalproex sodium for initial treatment of childhood mania. In addition, the children were less likely to discontinue the drug compared to those taking lithium or divalproex sodium, indicating a higher tolerance for it. This finding is consistent with other studies that have compared second-generation antipsychotics like risperidone to placebo in treating childhood mania.
However, the researchers caution that risperidone is associated with adverse metabolic effects that can increase the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular problems. They note that many children responded to low doses of the medication, suggesting that clinicians should be conservative when determining how to dose the medication. A lower dose may minimize the potential for serious side effects. The researchers also caution that because diagnostic measures for childhood bipolar disorder are not always consistent across studies, and because the validity of such a diagnosis in younger children is under debate, TEAM findings may not generalize to patients diagnosed using other measures.
More research is needed to develop safer, more effective interventions for children with early onset bipolar disorder for both initial and longer term treatment.
Geller B, Luby J, Josh P, Wagner KD, Emslie G, Walkup JT, Axelson DA, Bolhofner K, Robb A, Wolf DV, Riddle MA, Birmaher B, Ryan ND, Severe J, Vitiello B, Tillman R, Lavori P. A randomized controlled trial of risperidone, lithium and divalproex sodium for initial treatment of bipolar I disorder, manic or mixed phase, in children and adolescents. Archives of General Psychiatry. Online ahead of print January 2, 2012.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health Science Update
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a challenge. Bipolar Disorder is a challenge. When a child or teen has both, does the likelihood of mania double or worsen? Here’s the abstract of an interesting study that came out a few months ago in the journal Bipolar Disorder:
To compare attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar spectrum disorders (BPSDs), and comorbidity in the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms (LAMS) study.
Children ages 6-12 were recruited at first visit to clinics associated with four universities. A BPSD diagnosis required that the patient exhibit episodes. Four hypotheses were tested:
(i) children with BPSD + ADHD would have a younger age of mood symptom onset than those with BPSD but no ADHD;
(ii) children with BPSD + ADHD would have more severe ADHD and BPSD symptoms than those with only one disorder;
(iii) global functioning would be more impaired in children with ADHD + BPSD than in children with either diagnosis alone; and
(iv) the ADHD + BPSD group would have more additional diagnoses.
Of 707 children, 421 had ADHD alone, 45 had BPSD alone, 117 had both ADHD and BPSD, and 124 had neither. Comorbidity (16.5%) was slightly less than expected by chance (17.5%). Age of mood symptom onset was not different between the BPSD + ADHD group and the BPSD-alone group. Symptom severity increased and global functioning decreased with comorbidity. Comorbidity with other disorders was highest for the ADHD + BPSD group, but higher for the ADHD-alone than the BPSD-alone group. Children with BPSD were four times as likely to be hospitalized (22%) as children with ADHD alone.
The high rate of BPSD in ADHD reported by some authors may be better explained as a high rate of both disorders in child outpatient settings rather than ADHD being a risk factor for BPSD. Co-occurrence of the two disorders is associated with poorer global functioning, greater symptom severity, and more additional comorbidity than for either single disorder.
So what does that mean? It means that if your child has both ADHD and Bipolar Disorder, yes, they are more at risk of having more severe symptoms of mania, they are more likely to have additional comorbid disorders, and their overall functioning is likely to be more impaired. That doesn’t mean they will be necessarily be severely impaired, however. It does mean, however, that your child is more likely to need treatment and that without it, they may be at significant risk of school problems and other problems.
Arnold LE, Demeter C, Mount K, Frazier TW, Youngstrom EA, Fristad M, Birmaher B, Findling RL, Horwitz SM, Kowatch R, Axelson DA: Pediatric bipolar spectrum disorder and ADHD: comparison and comorbidity in the LAMS clinical sample. Bipolar Disorder, 2011, 13(5-6), 509-21.
One of the “hot” topics in recent years has been the comorbidity between ADHD and Bipolar Disorder – and how difficult some people find it to be clear about whether a child or adult has one, the other, or both.
When it comes to the rate of comorbidity (co-occurrence of the two disorders), results from studies have been all over the place, with one study suggesting that 94% of youth with Bipolar Disorder also have ADHD. Studies demonstrating high comorbidity rates of 80% or higher are not unusual, although there have been some studies – usually from non-U.S. samples – that find significantly lower rates. Hence, the range of estimates has been from 4% to 94%.
If you pose the question the other way, though, i.e., what percent of youth with ADHD also have Bipolar Disorder, studies report that 11-22% of ADHD youth also have Bipolar. In 2010, I visually summarized the results in a presentation this way:
If you have only been hearing about the high estimates, here’s more food for thought:
A study conducted in the U.K. of 200 youth with ADHD aged 6-18 years found that only one child, a 9-year-old boy, met diagnostic criteria for both ICD-10 hypomania and DSM-IV bipolar disorder not otherwise specified.
The study was published in the March 2011 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.
So… are we overdiagnosing Bipolar youth in the U.S. or is there some other explanation?
I’ll be conducting an all-day workshop for educators on Monday, December 5, 2011 at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord, New Hampshire. The event is sponsored by the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability and is geared to regular and special education teachers, school psychologists and social workers, behavior specialists, occupational therapists, administrators, and parents.
Neurological disorders that emerge in childhood often have significant impact on students’ academic, behavioral, and social-emotional functioning. Participants will learn about the cardinal features of Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Executive Dysfunction, Mood Disorders such as Depression and Bipolar Disorder, and the memory deficits, sensory issues and “storms” that sometimes accompany them. Strategies and assistive technology to accommodate symptom interference in activities such as handwriting, homework, math calculation, and written expression and big projects will be described. Pitfalls in behavioral interventions, and simple social skills and problem-solving interventions will also be identified.
Hope to see you there!