Aim: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of lamotrigine monotherapy as an acute treatment of bipolar mood elevation in children with bipolar spectrum disorders.
Method: This was a 12-week, open-label, prospective trial of lamotrigine monotherapy to assess the effectiveness and tolerability of this compound in treating pediatric bipolar disorder. Assessments included the Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS), Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale (CGI-I), Children's Depression Rating Scale (CDRS), and Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). Adverse events were assessed through spontaneous self-reports, vital signs weight monitoring, and laboratory analysis.
Results: Thirty-nine children with bipolar disorder (YMRS at entry: 31.6 +/- 5.5) were enrolled in the study and 22 (56%) completed the 12-week trial. Lamotrigine was slowly titrated to an average endpoint dose of 160.7 +/- 128.3 in subjects <12 years of age (N = 22) and 219.1 +/- 172.2 mg/day in children 12-17 years of age (N = 17). Treatment with lamotrigine was associated with statistically significant levels of improvement in mean YMRS scores (-14.9 +/- 9.7, P < 0.001) at endpoint. Lamotrigine treatment also resulted in significant improvement in the severity of depressive, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and psychotic symptoms. Lamotrigine was generally well tolerated with marginal increase in body weight (47.0 +/- 18.0 kg vs. 47.2 +/- 17.9 kg, P= 0.6) and was not associated with abnormal changes in laboratory parameters. Several participants were discontinued due to skin rash; in all cases, the rash resolved shortly after discontinuation of treatment. No patient developed Steven Johnson syndrome.
Conclusions: Open-label lamotrigine treatment appears to be beneficial in the treatment of bipolar disorder and associated conditions in children. Future placebo-controlled, double-blind studies are warranted to confirm these findings.