The strengths and limitations of considering childhood-and adolescent-onset bipolar disorder (BD) separately versus together remain to be established. We assessed this issue.BD patients referred to the Stanford Bipolar Disorder Clinic during 2000-2011 were assessed with the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for BD Affective Disorders Evaluation. Patients with childhood- and adolescent-onset were compared to those with adult-onset for 7 unfavorable bipolar illness characteristics with replicated associations with early-onset patients.Among 502 BD outpatients, those with childhood- (<13 years, N=110) and adolescent- (13-18 years, N=218) onset had significantly higher rates for 4/7 unfavorable illness characteristics, including lifetime comorbid anxiety disorder, at least ten lifetime mood episodes, lifetime alcohol use disorder, and prior suicide attempt, than those with adult-onset (>18 years, N=174). Childhood- but not adolescent-onset BD patients also had significantly higher rates of first-degree relative with mood disorder, lifetime substance use disorder, and rapid cycling in the prior year. Patients with pooled childhood/adolescent - compared to adult-onset had significantly higher rates for 5/7 of these unfavorable illness characteristics, while patients with childhood- compared to adolescent-onset had significantly higher rates for 4/7 of these unfavorable illness characteristics.Caucasian, insured, suburban, low substance abuse, American specialty clinic-referred sample limits generalizability. Onset age is based on retrospective recall.Childhood- compared to adolescent-onset BD was more robustly related to unfavorable bipolar illness characteristics, so pooling these groups attenuated such relationships. Further study is warranted to determine the extent to which adolescent-onset BD represents an intermediate phenotype between childhood- and adult-onset BD.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2015.03.019
View details for PubMedID 25863906