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High Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Bipolar Disorder

J Clin Psychiatry 2019;80(4):18m12422

Objective: Despite abundant literature demonstrating increased metabolic syndrome (MetS) prevalence and important clinical correlates of MetS among middle-age adults with bipolar disorder, little is known about this topic among adolescents and young adults early in their course of bipolar disorder. We therefore examined this topic in the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth (COBY) study.

Methods: A cross-sectional, retrospective study was conducted of 162 adolescents and young adults (mean ± SD age = 20.8 ± 3.7 years; range, 13.6–28.3 years) with bipolar disorder (I, II, or not otherwise specified, based on DSM-IV) enrolled in COBY between 2000 and 2006. MetS measures (blood pressure, glucose, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-C], triglycerides, and waist circumference), defined using the International Diabetes Federation criteria, were obtained at a single timepoint. Mood, comorbidity, and treatment over the 6 months preceding the MetS assessment were evaluated using the Longitudinal Interval Follow-Up Evaluation.

Results: The prevalence of MetS in the sample was 19.8% (32/162). Low HDL-C (56.5%) and abdominal obesity (46.9%) were the most common MetS criteria. MetS was nominally associated with lower lifetime global functioning at COBY intake (odds ratio [OR] = 0.97, P = .06). MetS was significantly associated with percentage of weeks in full-threshold pure depression (OR = 1.07, P = .02) and percentage of weeks receiving antidepressant medications (OR = 1.06, P = .001) in the preceding 6 months. MetS was not associated with manic symptoms or medications other than antidepressants.

Conclusions: The prevalence of MetS in this sample was at least double compared to the general population. Moreover, MetS is associated with increased burden of depression symptoms in this group. Management of early-onset bipolar disorder should integrate strategies focused on modifying MetS risk factors.​