05 March 2010

New research seeks to understand the link between infant brain development and bipolar disorder in young children

Since the mid 1990’s, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children has increased 4,000%. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) also realizes the damages that premature diagnosis of bipolar disorder can have on young children. In an attempt to reduce the number of diagnosis and the risk factors involved with prescribing medications with possible metabolic side effects, the DSM has created a new title for children that exhibit bipolar characteristics, Temper Dysregulatory Disorder (TDD). Scientists are hoping that the American Psychiatric Association will embrace TDD, rather than labeling children with a chronic, life-long disorder that will require a lifetime of medication.

Two Brown University researchers are studying the link between brain development in infants and later bipolar diagnosis in children. This research will focus on myelination, the creation of the fatty lining that surrounds the brain’s fibers and neurons. Recent studies suggest that abnormal myelination can lead to nuerodevelopmental disorders like autism.

The Take Away: By observing the development of normal myelination in contrast with abnormal myelination, the scientists hope to discern which regions of the brain control language acquisition, motor skills, memory, and vision in children— in addition to how they develop, and how delays are produced.

Spiegel, A. (2010). Children labeled 'bipolar' may get a new diagnosis. National Public Radio, Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123544191&ft=1&f=1001

Two brown faculty to study brain development in infants and children with bipolar disorder. (2009). Medical News Today, Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/173314.php

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