ADVANTAGES

The most basic question about bipolar kids remains a mystery: Will they grow up to be bipolar adults? Because diagnosing the condition in children is still relatively new, no studies have yet followed a large number of them fully into adulthood. One fact is suggestive: bipolar kids are predominantly male, while the adult bipolar population skews slightly toward the female. The likelihood is that many of these kids will grow up to have mental-health issues of some kind, but which issues, and how chronic or severe they will be, no one really knows. A long-term study in Pittsburgh overseen by Axelson and Birmaher suggests that as children grow, the severity of their disorders can change; bipolar II, the less severe form of the disease, can convert to bipolar I, the more severe form. Nearly a third of subthreshold bipolar cases (BP-N.O.S., or Not Otherwise Specified, in D.S.M.) convert to the more serious forms.

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