Characteristics of children with elevated symptoms of mania: The longitudinal assessment of manic symptoms (LAMS) study



The aim of the Longitudinal Assessment of Manic Symptoms (LAMS) study is to examine differences in psychiatric symptomatology, diagnoses, demographics, functioning, and psychotropic medication exposure in children with elevated symptoms of mania (ESM) compared to youth without ESM. This article describes the initial demographic information, diagnostic and symptom prevalence, and medication exposure for the LAMS cohort that will be followed longitudinally.


Guardians of consecutively ascertained new outpatients 6 to 12 years of age presenting for treatment at one of 10 university-affiliated mental health centers were asked to complete the Parent General Behavior Inventory-10-Item Mania Scale (PGBI-10M). Patients with scores ≥ 12 on the PGBI-10M (ESM+) and a matched sample of patients who screened negative (ESM-) were invited to participate. Patients were enrolled from December 13, 2005, to December 18, 2008.


707 children (621 ESM+, 86 ESM-; mean [SD] age = 9.4 [2.0] years) were evaluated. The ESM+ group, compared to the ESM- group, more frequently met DSM-IV criteria for a mood disorder (P < .001), bipolar spectrum disorders (BPSD; P < .001), and disruptive behavior disorders (P < .01). Furthermore, they showed poorer overall functioning and more severe manic, depressive, attention-deficit/hyperactivity, disruptive behavioral, and anxiety symptoms. Nevertheless, rates of BPSD were relatively low in the ESM+ group (25%), with almost half of these BPSD patients (12.1% of ESM+ patients) meeting DSM-IV criteria for bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. ESM+ children with BPSD had significantly more of the following: current prescriptions for antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and anticonvulsants (P < .001 for each); psychiatric hospitalizations (P < .001); and biological parents with elevated mood (P = .001 for mothers, P < .013 for fathers). ESM+ children with BPSD were also lower functioning compared to ESM+ children without BPSD.


Although ESM+ was associated with higher rates of BPSD than ESM-, 75% of ESM+ children did not meet criteria for BPSD. Results suggest that longitudinal assessment is needed to examine which factors are associated with diagnostic evolution to BPSD in children with elevated symptoms of mania.