Lithium has shown to be a safe and effective treatment for children with bipolar disorder, according to a recent study carried out at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published in Monday's edition of the journal Pediatrics.
Although lithium has been used to treat adults with bipolar disorder in the past, it had not been used to treat children or teenagers because of safety concerns, according to United Press International
. Treating children with lithium instead of the previously used drugs intended for schizophrenia marks a major turning point in the treatment plan for kids with the disorder.
"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
Historically speaking, children, pregnant women, and females of child-bearing age have often been excluded from clinical drug trials due to safety concerns and ethical considerations, according to Hopkins Medicine. But recent research has continued to show that excluding those groups may end up harming them rather than helping and protecting them, due to the fact that some drugs act differently with different types of people.
With these concerns in mind, the researchers from Johns Hopkins conducted an experiment involving 81 patients ages seven to 17 who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The patients represented nine different medical and academic facilities throughout the United States, according to Hopkins Medicine. Fifty-three of the patients were given lithium while 28 of them remained in a placebo control group.
The experiment’s subsequent results showed that roughly 47 percent of the lithium-treated patients scored within a range of “very much improved” or “much improved” on the Clinical Impressions Scale, in comparison with roughly 21 percent of the placebo patients, according to Pulse Headlines
. None of the patients experienced significant weight gain or serious side effects after the bouts of treatment — side effects that normally occur in patients who have been administered other anti-psychotic drugs.
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