View Full Version : Gene Linked to Pediatric BD; Children in Companion Study Found Very Impaired

10-17-04, 04:18 AM
ST. LOUIS, Oct. 11 (AScribe Newswire) -- A recent study of children with manic-depressive illness (now called bipolar disorder) has found a gene that may confer susceptibility to this illness, as reported in September's American Journal of Psychiatry. "As recently as 10 years ago, it was not widely known that the illness existed in children," says Barbara Geller, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. The gene, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), has been shown to help determine thinking and memory and the response to medications given to people who have bipolar disorder.

Two studies in adults with bipolar disorder, that used similar methods, have also shown that the BDNF gene may confer susceptibility to the illness. This suggests that adults and children may have some overlap in their vulnerability to manic-depression. Children in the study, whose average age was 10, were noted to be more severely ill and to have more persistent symptoms than adults with bipolar disorder. In a companion study, these children were shown to be seriously ill with manic-depression two-thirds of the time during a four-year follow-up period.

Children were treated by their own community physicians. Children with mania in these studies presented with high moods characterized by silly, laughing, goofy behaviors at inappropriate places such as school and church, grandiose behaviors such as telling principals to fire teachers, only needing 4-6 hours of sleep without being tired the next day and voluminous talking.

This longitudinal study, reported in the May Archives of General Psychiatry and funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, does much to dispel the mistaken notion that children cannot have manic-depression. Dr. Geller's colleagues on these studies were Edwin H. Cook, Jr, M.D., Judith A. Badner, M.D., Ph.D., Rebecca Tillman, M.S., James L. Craney, M.P.H., J.D., Susan L. Christian, Ph.D., and Kristine Bolhofner, B.S.

Dr. Geller chairs the Professional Advisory Council of the Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF), a national, not-for-profit organization of families raising children diagnosed with, or at risk for, bipolar disorder. Its Web site,, provides information and support for parents.

For further information contact:

Barbara Geller, M.D., Washington University in St. Louis, 314-362-7365, or Sissy Allen, Communications Director, Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, 757-253-7589.

10-21-04, 10:36 AM
This almost sounds like my son. I'm in St Louis, so I will give her a call.