Lithium in an 8-yr. old?

Q: My 8 year old son has been diagnosed with Bi Polar. He has become agressively violent in school towards his teachers and any peers. Is lithium safe to use in such a young child or should I look for alternatives to try for him?

Dear Tommy --
Not being a child psychiatrist, I will be cautious with my answer: as I see what my child/adolescent colleagues are doing, lithium is among the options.   I haven't seen reasons why lithium ranks significantly differently as a choice for a child, compared to an adult -- i.e. it's a good potential choice for both.  Perhaps more vigilance watching out for acne, as he goes into adolescence; and being very careful with levels as his kidneys have a long way to go.  Try the bipolar kids' parents' site and see if you can learn more.

Dr. Phelps

Published February, 2001