The classic signs of a bipolar disorder are extreme ups and downs. If we think about infancy, all young babies are by definition bipolar. They can go from crying one minute to smiling and laughing the next.

Can a Baby Be Bipolar?

The classic signs of a bipolar disorder are extreme ups and downs. If we think about infancy, all young babies are by definition bipolar. They can go from crying one minute to smiling and laughing the next. If we saw that type of behavior in an adult we would suspect they were bipolar. In a young baby, these bipolar symptoms are normal. That is why pediatric bipolar disorder is rarely diagnosed under the age of nine; but occasional reports indicate in it can present as young as six.

The classic signs of a bipolar disorder are extreme ups and downs. If we think about infancy, all young babies are by definition bipolar. They can go from crying one minute to smiling and laughing the next. If we saw that type of behavior in an adult we would suspect they were bipolar. In a young baby, these bipolar symptoms are normal. That is why pediatric bipolar disorder is rarely diagnosed under the age of nine; but occasional reports indicate in it can present as young as six.

Pediatric bipolar disorder is often diagnosed on the basis of behavior because a child may not always be able to express himself appropriately in words. They may lose weight secondary to a poor appetite, no longer enjoy their usual activities, and have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. These are the usual characteristics of depression. When children are in the manic phase of the bipolar disorder they exhibit behavior similar to ADD and ADHD. The have difficulty focusing and go from one activity to another.  School work may suffer and teachers may complain about their behavior in the classroom.

Since it is difficult to make the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in babies, researchers have looked back at older children in whom the diagnosis is certain for clues during their infancy. What they found is that mothers of bipolar children were more likely to report infantile bipolar symptoms than mothers of children not diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  Specifically, children with bipolar disorder were more likely to have been reported as a stiffened infant and act colicky. They would hold their little bodies rigid and cry and would be difficult to console.

There seems to be an inherited risk factor for bipolar disorder in children. In families with a first degree relative with bipolar disorder, and by first degree we mean parents or siblings, the risk is increased seven fold. We can also see changes in MRI brain scans in children and adults with bipolar disorder. The conclusion is that specific genes may influence the structure and development of the brain leading to this problem.

This does not mean if a mother or father is bipolar the baby will absolutely grow up to be bipolar. We know during pregnancy good and bad genes can be turned on and off depending on the mother’s lifestyle. This is called epigenetics. A mother can use this to her advantage by properly managing her lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and stress during pregnancy. She can turn off the bad genes and turn on the good ones. She should pay particular attention to nutrition and stress. Pregnant mothers need to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, find healthy ways to manage stress such as exercise and talking with family and friends, and get a healthy night’s sleep every night. These simple lifestyle enhancements can have a profound influence on how your baby develops in the womb and this can set the course for the rest of your child’s life. Pregnancy can be a powerful tool to amplify your child’s best genes and to turn off the bad.

I look back now at my first born. He came out crying and screaming and didn’t stop there. He was colicky for the first 4 months or so and eventually diagnosed at age 4 with ADHD. He was a very smart child and is a very smart adult now and I just have to wonder if the problems he had during his childhood are related to Bipolar disorder. We had a lot things going on with him when he was young. Behavioral problems mainly. He is a stable adult now so I don’t really know if he has Bipolar or not. Judging by his mannerisms and lifestyle I would say probably not. At least I hope not. He’s almost 31 years old and no symptoms have surfaced to my knowledge. I do know that when he was a baby he exhibited all the symptoms mentioned above. It can be hereditary and I pray he didn’t get my genes for Bipolar disorder. It’s a chance you take but again as mentioned above there are precautions pregnant women with the disease can take to minimize the chance. \

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