Background and Aims Bipolar disorder (BD) is a chronic psychiatric condition. Lithium is the most common mood stabilizing drug during pregnancy. It is unknown whether lithium exposure in utero may have negative effects on neurodevelopment. This study aims to investigate the health and cognitive development of preschool children born to mothers with BD.
Methods 10 women with BD who had given birth 2006 or 2007 were recruited from a psychiatric center. 4 of them had been medicating with lithium during pregnancy. 4 women without psychiatric illness were included. At age 4–5 the children were tested by a child psychologist, using Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) and physically examined. The mental health and social situation of the mother was assessed by a psychiatric nurse or psychiatrist.
Results WPPSI results were available for 9 children. Mean full scale IQ of children exposed to lithium during pregnancy (n=3) was 108 and for unexposed children (n=6) 111, no significant difference. One child, born to a mother with bipolar disease but not exposed to lithium, was born prematurely and tested in the lower normal range of the IQ scale. One child, not exposed to lithium, had been diagnosed with ADHD. All children were in good general health.
Conclusions These preliminary results show that children to mothers with bipolar disorder, with or without intrauterine exposure to lithium, had a normal to high IQ at preschool age. 5 more children have been tested, results to be analyzed, and additional children will be recruited.