Abnormal for Child, age 4, to Take Depakote?
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Q:  Abnormal for Child, age 4, to Take Depakote?

My 4 year child is on 125miligrams of deprakote 2 times a day his doctor has tried  ritlin for a 2 week trial and decided that was not the answer so he decided to try the deprakote is it abnormal for a doctor to diagnos a child as young as this to take this medication. His dad has been diagnosed with bi-polar..

Dear Ms. B' -- 
Although I don't treat kids, I'm watching what those who do are doing.  And it looks to me as though people are treating kids younger and younger.  There is a group at Stanford University that's not even waiting until the kids develop symptoms -- they're trying (as a research study) treating the kids of parents who both have bipolar disorder before the kids even become symptomatic, because they believe this might keep those kids from ever developing a severe illness they are at high risk to get.  So, you can see, the trend these days is to treat bipolar disorder very aggressively even in very young kids.  Research on how wise that is is extremely difficult to do, so we really have to rely on the "clinical sense" of doctors who see a lot of such kids -- scary to have that little to go on, but that's where we are these days.  Being an adult psychiatrist like I am is a lot easier in that respect.  I guess my mean to say you're asking a good and important question and I wish, as I 'm sure your child's doc' wishes too, that we had more to go on in answering that question. 

Dr. Phelps

Published October, 2001


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