There has been an enormous increase in diagnoses of paediatric bipolar disorder lately although there is still a large amount of scepticism as to whether this condition really exists in children. Researchers at Washington University in St Louis studied 108 children who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder between 1995 and 1998. At the beginning of the study, and again during nine follow-up visits conducted over eight years the children and their parents were interviewed seperately about their symptoms, diagnoses, daily cycles of mania and depression and interactions with others. Over the course of the study the children had mood 'episodes' in 60.2% of weeks and episodes of mania in 39.6% of weeks. 87.8% recovered from their first episode of mania but 73.3% later relapsed. The episodes of illness were characterized by psychosis, daily cycling between mania and depression and a long duration. At the end of the follow-up period 54 of the participants were 18 or over of whom 44.4% continued to have manic episodes and 35.2% had substance-abuse disorders, a rate similar to those diagnosed with bipolar disorder as adults, strongly supporting the continuity between child and adult bipolar disorder.
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