Over the past two decades, there has been tremendous growth in research regarding bipolar disorder (BD) among children and adolescents (ie, pediatric BD [PBD]). The primary purpose of this article is to distill the extant literature, dispel myths or exaggerated assertions in the field, and disseminate clinically relevant findings.An international group of experts completed a selective review of the literature, emphasizing areas of consensus, identifying limitations and gaps in the literature, and highlighting future directions to mitigate these gaps.Substantial, and increasingly international, research has accumulated regarding the phenomenology, differential diagnosis, course, treatment, and neurobiology of PBD. Prior division around the role of irritability and of screening tools in diagnosis has largely abated. Gold-standard pharmacologic trials inform treatment of manic/mixed episodes, whereas fewer data address bipolar depression and maintenance/continuation treatment. Adjunctive psychosocial treatment provides a forum for psychoeducation and targets primarily depressive symptoms. Numerous neurocognitive and neuroimaging studies, and increasing peripheral biomarker studies, largely converge with prior findings from adults with BD.As data have accumulated and controversy has dissipated, the field has moved past existential questions about PBD toward defining and pursuing pressing clinical and scientific priorities that remain. The overall body of evidence supports the position that perceptions about marked international (US vs elsewhere) and developmental (pediatric vs adult) differences have been overstated, although additional research on these topics is warranted. Traction toward improved outcomes will be supported by continued emphasis on pathophysiology and novel therapeutics.
Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.