Data on medical treatment of children and adolescents with tic disorders are scarce. This study examined the administrative prevalence of psychopharmacological prescriptions in this patient group in Germany. Data of the largest German health insurance fund were analysed. In outpatients aged 0–19 years with diagnosed tic disorder, psychotropic prescriptions were evaluated for the years 2006 and 2011. In 2011, the percentage of psychotropic prescriptions was slightly higher than in 2006 (21.2 vs. 18.6 %). The highest prescription prevalence was found in Tourette syndrome (51.5 and 53.0 %, respectively). ADHD drugs were most frequently prescribed, followed by antipsychotics. In 2011, prescriptions of second generation antipsychotics (SGA) were higher and prescriptions of first generation antipsychotics (FGA) lower than in 2006. Concerning prescribed antipsychotic substances, in 2011 risperidone prescriptions were higher and tiapride prescriptions lower. Paediatricians issued 37.4 %, and child and adolescent psychiatrists issued 37.1 % of psychotropic prescriptions. The FGA/SGA ratio was highest in GPs (1.25) and lowest in child and adolescent psychiatrists (0.96). From 2006 to 2011, there was only a slight increase in psychotropic prescriptions for children and adolescents with a diagnosis of tic disorder in Germany, which stands in contrast towards the significant increase in psychotropic prescriptions in other child and adolescent psychiatric disorders (e.g. ADHD). There were marked differences in treatment patterns by tic disorder subgroups, with Tourette syndrome patients receiving most frequently psychopharmacotherapy. Risperidone prescriptions increased, probably reflecting a switch in prescribing practice towards up-to-date treatment guidelines. In primary care physicians, dissemination of current tic disorder treatment guidelines might constitute an important educational goal.
Rising global rates of pathological Internet use (PIU) and related psychological impairments have gained considerable attention in recent years. In an effort to acquire evidence-based knowledge of this relationship, the main objective of this study was to investigate the association between PIU, psychopathology and self-destructive behaviours among school-based adolescents in eleven European countries. This cross-sectional study was implemented within the framework of the European Union project: Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe. A representative sample of 11,356 school-based adolescents (M/F: 4,856/6,500; mean age: 14.9) was included in the analyses. PIU was assessed using the Young’s Diagnostic Questionnaire. Psychopathology was measured using the Beck Depression Inventory-II, Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Self-destructive behaviours were evaluated by the Deliberate Self-Harm Inventory and Paykel Suicide Scale. Results showed that suicidal behaviours (suicidal ideation and suicide attempts), depression, anxiety, conduct problems and hyperactivity/inattention were significant and independent predictors of PIU. The correlation between PIU, conduct problems and hyperactivity/inattention was stronger among females, while the link between PIU and symptoms of depression, anxiety and peer relationship problems was stronger among males. The association between PIU, psychopathology and self-destructive behaviours was stronger in countries with a higher prevalence of PIU and suicide rates. These findings ascertain that psychopathology and suicidal behaviours are strongly related to PIU. This association is significantly influenced by gender and country suggesting socio-cultural influences. At the clinical and public health levels, targeting PIU among adolescents in the early stages could potentially lead to improvements of psychological well-being and a reduction of suicidal behaviours.
Based on findings of Stevens and Vollebergh , who analyzed cross-cultural topics, this review considers the current prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems of native children and adolescents in comparison with children with a migration background in European countries. 36 studies published from 2007 up to 2013 chosen from a systematic literature research were included and analyzed in their perspective design in detail. Previous studies showed great differences in their results: Especially in Germany, many studies compare the heterogeneous group of immigrant children with native children to analyze an ethnic minority or migration process effect. Only a British and Turkish study demonstrates the selection effect in migration. Most Dutch or British studies examined different ethnic groups, e.g. Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, Pakistani, Indian or Black migrant children and adolescents. Migrant childhood in Europe could be declared a risk in increasing internalizing problem behavior while the prevalent rate in externalizing problem behavior was comparable between native and migrant children. A migration status itself can often be postulated as a risk factor for children’s mental condition, in particular migration in first generation. Furthermore, several major influence factors in migrant children’s mental health could be pointed out, such as a low socio-economic status, a Non-European origin, an uncertain cultural identity of the parents, maternal harsh parenting or inadequate parental occupation, a minority status, the younger age, gender effects or a specific culture declaration in diseases.
Autism is diagnosed on the basis of behavioral manifestations, but its biomarkers are not well defined. A strong gender bias typifying autism (it is 4–5 times more prevalent in males) suggests involvement of steroid hormones in autism pathobiology. In order to evaluate the potential roles of such hormones in autism, we compared the salivary levels of 22 steroids in prepubertal autistic male and female children from two age groups (3–4 and 7–9 years old) with those in healthy controls. The steroids were analyzed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry and radioimmunoassay. Statistical analysis (ANOVA) revealed that autistic children had significantly higher salivary concentrations of many steroid hormones (both C21 and C19) than control children. These anomalies were more prominent in older autistic children and in boys. The levels of androgens (androstenediol, dehydroepiandrosterone, androsterone and their polar conjugates) were especially increased, indicative of precocious adrenarche and predictive of early puberty. The concentrations of the steroid precursor, pregnenolone, and of several pregnanolones were also higher in autistic than in healthy children, but cortisol levels were not different. Some steroids, whose levels are raised in autism (allopregnanolone, androsterone, pregnenolone, dehydroepiandrosterone and their sulfate conjugates) are neuroactive and modulate GABA, glutamate, and opioid neurotransmission, affecting brain development and functioning. These steroids may contribute to autism pathobiology and symptoms such as elevated anxiety, sleep disturbances, sensory deficits, and stereotypies among others. We suggest that salivary levels of selected steroids may serve as biomarkers of autism pathology useful for monitoring the progress of therapy.
Subthreshold disorders, conditions with relevant psychiatric symptoms which do not meet the full criteria of a disorder according to the prevailing classification systems, have received increased attention recently. The current paper aims to present a systematic review of subthreshold attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents. Searching five computerised databases (Ovid MEDLINE, Psychinfo, PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science) with two categories of search terms [(1) subclinical; subsyndromal; subthreshold (2) ADHD] the authors examined the prevalence of subthreshold ADHD among children and adolescents, the comorbidity of subthreshold ADHD and whether there was already any impact of subthreshold ADHD on functioning. Before these questions were answered, the included articles were examined to see what kinds of definitions of child and adolescent subthreshold ADHD are used and what kinds of assessments are used for measuring subthreshold ADHD among children and adolescents. The results of the 18 articles included show that different definitions of subthreshold ADHD in children and adolescents exist, a large variety of instruments are used, the prevalence rate of subthreshold ADHD is wide-ranging (0.8–23.1 %), the comorbidity of subthreshold ADHD is high and there are several areas where subthreshold ADHD has a meaningful impact on functioning. All these suggest that focusing on subthreshold ADHD can be important in preventative interventions. The results of this systematic review support the dimensional approach of ADHD. Further research on uniform criteria of subthreshold ADHD is needed to support the inclusion of this condition in classification systems.
Both structural (i.e., SES, familial psychopathology, family composition) and dynamic (i.e., parental warmth and rejection) family characteristics have been associated with aggressive and depressive problem development. However, it is unclear to what extent (changes in) dynamic family characteristics have an independent effect on problem development while accounting for stable family characteristics and comorbid problem development. This issue was addressed by studying problem development in a large community sample (N = 2,230; age 10–20) of adolescents using Linear Mixed models. Paternal and maternal warmth and rejection were assessed via the Egna Minnen Beträffande Uppfostran for Children (EMBU-C). Aggressive and depressive problems were assessed via subscales of the Youth/Adult Self-Report. Results showed that dynamic family characteristics independently affected the development of aggressive problems. Moreover, maternal rejection in preadolescence and increases in paternal rejection were associated with aggressive problems, whereas decreases in maternal rejection were associated with decreases in depressive problems over time. Paternal and maternal warmth in preadolescence was associated with fewer depressive problems during adolescence. Moreover, increases in paternal warmth were associated with fewer depressive problems over time. Aggressive problems were a stable predictor of depressive problems over time. Finally, those who increased in depressive problems became more aggressive during adolescence, whereas those who decreased in depressive problems became also less aggressive. Besides the effect of comorbid problems, problem development is to a large extent due to dynamic family characteristics, and in particular to changes in parental rejection, which leaves much room for parenting-based interventions.
Adolescents who attend special education for behavioural problems (SEB) and adolescents who live in a residential youth care institution (RYC) are characterised by behavioural disorders and problematic family backgrounds and have an increased risk for substance use. Though it is likely that the high rates of substance use in SEB/RYC settings might be inherent to the risk profile of these adolescents, little is known about the actual role the risk profile has in explaining substance use. The present study examined the extent to which the elevated risk of substance use in SEB/RYC can be explained by high levels of individual, family, and peer risk indicators that are known to characterise their risk profile. Self-report questionnaires from 531 adolescents in RYC (50 % male; mean age 14.7) and 603 adolescents in SEB (81 % male; mean age 14.1) were compared with information from 1,905 adolescents attending special education for students with learning disabilities (SEL) (56 % male; mean age 14.1). Results show that adolescents in SEB/RYC reported higher levels of daily smoking, weekly alcohol consumption, cannabis and hard drug use, as well as greater prevalence of individual, family and peer factors. Though individual, family and in particular peer risk indicators all explain some of the variance in substance use, the differences between adolescents in SEB/RYC compared with SEL remained significant and substantial, with the exception of heavy alcohol consumption. These findings suggest that deviant peer affiliation, in particular, plays a role in explaining high substance use levels in SEB/RYC and those factors relevant to the residential settings and special education schools might also contribute to substance use in these high-risk groups.
Although major guidelines in the field and current diagnostic criteria clearly demand an assessment of children’s attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms at school, few studies address the fundamental question of which is the best approach for clinicians to get this information from teachers. Three screening strategies for ADHD were applied to teachers of 247 third grade students. They were asked (1) an overt question about potential cases of ADHD in their classroom; (2) to complete a broad-band questionnaire assessing common child mental health problems; (3) to rate ADHD-specific symptoms in a narrow-band questionnaire. Based on the overt question, teachers identified one in five students (21.1 %) as having ADHD; 28 cases (11.3 %) were identified using standard cut-offs for the narrow-band, and 13 (5.3 %) using a standard threshold for the sub-scale of hyperactivity from the broad-band questionnaire. Agreement among strategies was low (k = 0.28). A subsample of students, clinically assessed to confirm screenings, showed modest agreement with final diagnosis. The narrow-band questionnaire had the best diagnostic performance. Multivariate analysis indicated that the presence of a comorbid externalizing disorder was the only variable associated with teachers’ ascertainment of ADHD caseness or non-caseness. Choice of screening strategy significantly affects how teachers report on ADHD symptoms at school. The halo effect of externalizing behaviors impacts the correct identification of true cases of ADHD in the school setting. Clinicians can rely on narrow-band instruments like the SNAP-IV to get information on ADHD symptoms at school from teachers.
In various countries preventive support groups are offered to children of mentally ill and/or addicted parents to reduce the risk that they will develop problems themselves. This study assessed the effectiveness of Dutch support groups for children aged 8–12 years old in terms of reducing negative cognitions; improving social support, competence, and parent–child interaction (direct intervention goals); and reducing emotional and behavioural problems (ultimate intervention aim). Children from 254 families were randomly assigned to the intervention or a control condition. Parents and children completed questionnaires at baseline and 3 and 6 months later. Emotional and behavioural problems of intervention group children were also assessed 1 year after the start. Univariate analyses of variance showed that children in the intervention group experienced a greater decrease in negative cognitions and sought more social support, immediately after participation and 3 months later, as compared to control group children. They also remained stable in their feelings of social acceptance (competence aspect) immediately after the intervention, whereas these feelings declined in control group children. The intervention and control groups both improved over time in terms of cognitions, competence, parent–child interaction and emotional and behavioural problem scores. Additional improvement in terms of problem scores was found in the intervention group 1 year after baseline. Further enhancement of effectiveness requires re-consideration of the support group goals; it should be studied whether the goals reflect the most important and influential risk and protective factors for this specific population. Besides, effects should be studied over a longer period.
To evaluate the 12-month efficacy of a parent-based intervention programme on children’s and mothers’ outcomes in a sample of Portuguese preschoolers displaying early hyperactive and inattentive behaviours (AD/HD behaviours), 52 preschool children whose mothers had received the Incredible Years basic parent training (IY) were followed from baseline to 12 months of follow-up. Reported and observational measures were used. Effects were found in the children’s reported AD/HD behaviours at home and at school after 12 months. Large effect sizes were also found in mothers’ variables: a decrease in self-reported dysfunctional parenting practices and an improved sense of competence and observed positive parenting. However, the improvements in coaching skills that have been observed after 6 months of follow-up decreased over time. No other significant differences were found between 6 and 12 months follow-up, with small effect sizes indicating that the significant post-intervention changes in child and parenting measures were maintained. After 12 months of follow-up, there was a clinically important reduction of over 30 % in reported AD/HD behaviours in 59 % of children. The sustained effects observed both for children and their mothers suggest long-term benefits of IY. Therefore, efforts should be made by Portuguese policy makers and professionals to deliver IY as an early preventive intervention for children displaying early AD/HD behaviours.
22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is associated with increased risk for schizophrenia. Better identifying risk factors for the emergence of psychotic symptoms in this population is needed to improve clinical assessment and early interventions. Schizophrenia spectrum disorders, hallucinations and delusions were characterized in an original sample of 104 individuals with 22q11DS. Further analysis of positive and negative symptoms was performed in a subsample of 59 individuals. Finally, longitudinal data available in 56 patients were used to explore the developmental trajectories of psychotic symptoms as well as the associations between psychotic symptoms and cognitive functioning. Schizophrenia spectrum disorders and psychotic symptoms were frequent in adolescent and adults with 22q11DS. The severity of hallucinations and non-persecutory delusional ideas discriminated patients at ultra-high risk for conversion to psychosis. Whereas approximately one-third of patients experienced an emergence of psychotic symptoms during a 4-year interval, 20 % displayed transient symptoms. Individuals with psychotic symptoms were characterized by a lower cognitive functioning in the context of the 22q11DS. The present study adds important data on the characteristics and developmental trajectory of psychotic symptoms in this population. This information may ultimately help clinicians dealing with these patients to reduce the duration of untreated psychosis and improve outcome.
The prevalence rates of elimination disorders and anxious/depressed symptoms of a representative sample of young children and their associations were assessed. 2,079 children in a defined geographical area were examined at school-entry. A parental questionnaire with 4 questions referring to symptoms of incontinence and 14 items of the anxious/depressed scale of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was administered. 9.5 % of 6-year-old children wet at night, 2.7 % wet during day and 1.2 % had faecal incontinence. Significantly more boys wet at night (11.7 %) than girls (7.2 %; OR 0.58, 95 % CI 0.43–0.78). 12.7 % had clinically relevant anxious/depressed symptoms. Children with at least one elimination disorder had significantly higher T values of the ‘anxious/depressed’ CBCL than continent controls. Children with faecal incontinence had highest T values of the ‘anxious/depressed’ CBCL syndrome scale, significantly higher than those of children with other elimination disorders and controls. Elimination disorders, as well as anxious/depressed symptoms are common at a young age. Boys are more affected by elimination disorders than girls, but not by anxious/depressed symptoms. Children with faecal incontinence have the highest rate of anxious/depressed symptoms.
Conducting prevention research with children and adolescents raises ethical challenges especially regarding confidentiality. Research with children and adolescents often applies methodologies which aims at the disclosure of sensitive information about practices that impact on adolescent mental and physical health such as sexual activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, illegal drug use, self-damaging and suicidal behaviour (ideation and attempts). The scope of the article is to review normative documents that cover topics relevant for confidentiality when conducting research with children and adolescents. A systematic literature search in MEDLINE was performed to identify relevant international and European guidelines and codes of ethics that cover health, behavioural and social science research. Additionally, the European Research Ethics website was consulted for double check. However, none of the documents aimed at biomedical, behavioural or social research offers concrete support in resolving practical research ethics problems regarding confidentiality. The codes show a lack of clarity in any circumstances in which the researcher might have an obligation to breach confidentiality by disclosing sensitive information. Only little information is given on what kind of disclosed information, if disclosed, might justify breaching confidentiality. The findings prove a need for normative documents to address the ethical questions regarding confidentiality arising in research practice explicitly and specifically. Moreover, further forms of ethical guidance should be developed to support ethical research with children and adolescents.
Justice sensitivity captures individual differences in the frequency with which injustice is perceived and the intensity of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions to it. Persons with ADHD have been reported to show high justice sensitivity, and a recent study provided evidence for this notion in an adult sample. In 1,235 German 10-to 19-year olds, we measured ADHD symptoms, justice sensitivity from the victim, observer, and perpetrator perspective, the frequency of perceptions of injustice, anxious and angry rejection sensitivity, depressive symptoms, conduct problems, and self-esteem. Participants with ADHD symptoms reported significantly higher victim justice sensitivity, more perceptions of injustice, and higher anxious and angry rejection sensitivity, but significantly lower perpetrator justice sensitivity than controls. In latent path analyses, justice sensitivity as well as rejection sensitivity partially mediated the link between ADHD symptoms and comorbid problems when considered simultaneously. Thus, both justice sensitivity and rejection sensitivity may contribute to explaining the emergence and maintenance of problems typically associated with ADHD symptoms, and should therefore be considered in ADHD therapy.
This study aims to explore the influence of paternal variables on outcome of behavioral parent training (BPT) in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 83 referred, school-aged children with ADHD were randomly assigned to BPT plus ongoing routine clinical care (RCC) or RCC alone. Treatment outcome was based on parent-reported ADHD symptoms and behavioral problems. Moderator variables included paternal ADHD symptoms, depressive symptoms, and parenting self-efficacy. We conducted repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) for all variables, and then analyzed the direction of interaction effects by repeated measures ANOVA in high and low scoring subgroups. Paternal ADHD symptoms and parenting self-efficacy played a moderating role in decreasing behavioral problems, but not in decreasing ADHD symptoms. Paternal depressive symptoms did not moderate either treatment outcome. BPT is most beneficial in reducing children’s behavioral problems when their fathers have high levels of ADHD symptoms or high-parenting self-efficacy.
Accumulating evidence from preclinical and clinical studies indicates that maternal psychosocial stress and anxiety during pregnancy adversely affect child outcomes. However, knowledge on the possible mechanisms underlying these relations is limited. In the present paper, we review the most often proposed mechanism, namely that involving the HPA axis and cortisol, as well as other less well-studied but possibly relevant and complementary mechanisms. We present evidence for a role of the following mechanisms: compromised placental functioning, including the 11β-HSD2 enzyme, increased catecholamines, compromised maternal immune system and intestinal microbiota, and altered health behaviors including eating, sleep, and exercise. The roles of (epi)genetics, the postnatal environment and the fetus are also discussed. We conclude that maternal prenatal psychosocial stress is a complex phenomenon that affects maternal emotions, behavior and physiology in many ways, and may influence the physiology and functioning of the fetus through a network of different pathways. The review concludes with recommendations for future research that helps our understanding of the mechanisms by which maternal prenatal stress exerts its effect on the fetus.
The cumulative prevalence rates of major depressive disorders (MDD) in children and adolescents averages 9.5 %. The majority of adults with MDD suffer from significant cognitive deficits, but the available neuropsychological data on the cognitive performance of children and adolescents with MDD yielded mixed results. Meta-analytic methods were used to assess the severity of cognitive deficits in children and adolescents with MDD as compared to healthy children and adolescents. We identified 17 studies comparing the intelligence, executive functions, verbal memory and attention of 447 patients with DSM-IV MDD and 1,347 healthy children and adolescents. Children and adolescents with MDD performed 0.194–0.772 (p < 0.001) standard mean differences worse than healthy control subjects in neuropsychological test procedures. The most pronounced deficits of children and adolescents with MDD were seen in inhibition capacity (STD = 0.772; p = 0.002), phonemic verbal fluency (STD = 0.756; p = 0.0001), sustained attention (STD = 0.522; p = 0.000), verbal memory (STD = 0.516; p = 0.0009) and planning (STD = 0.513; p = 0.014). We revealed cognitive deficits of children and adolescents with MDD in various cognitive domains. Long-term studies should investigate how the cognitive deficits of depressed youth affect their academic and social functioning, and whether age, comorbidity and depression severity play a role in this process.
The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) and the Early Screening of Autistic Traits (ESAT) were designed to screen for autism spectrum disorders in very young children. The aim of this study was to explore proportions of children that screened positive on the ESAT or the M-CHAT and to investigate if screening positive on the ESAT and M-CHAT is associated with clinical referral by 18 months and other aspects of children’s development, health, and behavior. In this study, the mothers of 12,948 18-month-old children returned a questionnaire consisting of items from the ESAT and M-CHAT, plus questions about clinical and developmental characteristics. The M-CHAT identified more screen-positive children than the ESAT, but the ESAT was associated with more clinical referrals and tended to identify more children with medical, language, and behavioral problems. A post hoc analysis of combining the two instruments found this to be more effective than the individual instruments alone in identifying children referred to clinical services at 18 months. Further analysis at the level of single items is warranted to improve these screening instruments.
Antidepressant and anxiolytic medications are widely prescribed and used by pregnant women for acute and maintenance therapy. These drugs are able to pass the placental barrier, and may potentially influence fetal and brain development. It is possible that exposure to prenatal antidepressants or anxiolytic medication may disturb neurotransmitter systems in the brain and have long-lasting consequences on neurodevelopment in the offspring. As all medication during pregnancy may pose a certain risk to the developing fetus, the potential benefits of the medication must be weighed against the risks for both mother and her unborn child. Therefore, information to guide patients and physicians to make a well-balanced decision for the appropriate treatment during pregnancy is needed. In this systematic review, an overview of maternal use of antidepressant or anxiolytic medication during pregnancy and childhood neurodevelopmental outcomes is provided. Some studies indicate a relation between prenatal exposure to antidepressants and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes such as delayed motor development/motor control, social difficulties, internalizing problems and autism, but cannot rule out confounding by indication. Overall, the results of the observational studies have been inconsistent, which makes translation of the findings into clinical recommendations difficult. More well-designed observational studies and also randomized controlled trials (e.g., maintenance treatment vs. cessation) are needed to move forward and provide a comprehensive evaluation of the risks and benefits of antidepressant and anxiolytic use during pregnancy.
Externalising behaviour in childhood is a prevalent problem in the field of child and adolescent mental health. Parenting interventions are widely accepted as efficacious treatment options for reducing externalising behaviour, yet practical and psychological barriers limit their accessibility. This review aims to establish the evidence base of self-directed (SD) parenting interventions for externalising behaviour problems. Electronic searches of PubMed, Web of Knowledge, Psychinfo, Embase and CENTRAL databases and manual searches of reference lists of relevant reviews identified randomised controlled trials and cluster randomised controlled trials examining the efficacy of SD interventions compared to no-treatment or active control groups. A random-effect meta-analysis estimated pooled standard mean difference (SMD) for SD interventions on measures of externalising child behaviour. Secondary analyses examined their effect on measures of parenting behaviour, parental stress and mood and parenting efficacy. Eleven eligible trials were included in the analyses. SD interventions had a large effect on parent report of externalising child behaviour (SMD = 1.01, 95 % CI: 0.77–1.24); although this effect was not upheld by analyses of observed child behaviour. Secondary analyses revealed effects of small to moderate magnitude on measures of parenting behaviour, parental mood and stress and parenting efficacy. An analysis comparing SD interventions with therapist-led parenting interventions revealed no significant difference on parent-reported measures of externalising child behaviour. SD interventions are associated with improvements in parental perception of externalising child behaviour and parental behaviour and well-being. Future research should further investigate the relative efficacy and cost-effectiveness of SD interventions compared to therapist-led interventions.
Formal thought disorder (FTD) is a disruption in the flow of thought, which is inferred from disorganisation of spoken language. FTD in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) might be a precursor of psychotic disorders or a manifestation of ASD symptom severity. The current longitudinal study is a seven-year follow-up of 91 individuals aged 5–12 years with ASD. We tested (1) whether childhood FTD predicted prodromal symptoms of psychosis in adolescence and (2) whether childhood FTD was associated with greater ASD symptom severity in adolescence. ASD symptom severity was assessed in childhood (T1) and 7 years later (T2), using the autism diagnostic observation schedule (ADOS). At T1, the Kiddie-Formal Thought Disorder Rating Scale (KFTDS) was used to measure symptoms of FTD. At T2, the prodromal questionnaire (PQ) was used to assess prodromal symptoms of psychosis. FTD at T1 did not predict prodromal symptoms of psychosis at T2 in children with ASD. FTD symptoms at T1, namely illogical thinking, predicted ASD symptom severity at T2 and this effect remained significant after controlling for T1 ASD symptom severity. In children with ASD, illogical thinking predicts severity of ASD symptoms in adolescence, but FTD does not predict prodromal symptoms of psychosis.
Children meeting the Child Behavior Checklist Dysregulation Profile (CBCL-DP) suffer from high levels of co-occurring internalizing and externalizing problems. Little is known about the cognitive abilities of these children with CBCL-DP. We examined the relationship between CBCL-DP and nonverbal intelligence. Parents of 6,131 children from a population-based birth cohort, aged 5 through 7 years, reported problem behavior on the CBCL/1.5–5. The CBCL-DP was derived using latent profile analysis on the CBCL/1.5–5 syndrome scales. Nonverbal intelligence was assessed using the Snijders Oomen Nonverbal Intelligence Test 2.5-7-Revised. We examined the relationship between CBCL-DP and nonverbal intelligence using linear regression. Analyses were adjusted for parental intelligence, parental psychiatric symptoms, socio-economic status, and perinatal factors. In a subsample with diagnostic interview data, we tested if the results were independent of the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The results showed that children meeting the CBCL-DP (n = 110, 1.8 %) had a 11.0 point lower nonverbal intelligence level than children without problems and 7.2–7.3 points lower nonverbal intelligence level than children meeting other profiles of problem behavior (all p values <0.001). After adjustment for covariates, children with CBCL-DP scored 8.3 points lower than children without problems (p < 0.001). The presence of ADHD or ASD did not account for the lower nonverbal intelligence in children with CBCL-DP. In conclusion, we found that children with CBCL-DP have a considerable lower nonverbal intelligence score. The CBCL-DP and nonverbal intelligence may share a common neurodevelopmental etiology.
The objective of this study is to compare the time trend of reported diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), hyperkinetic disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorder across four countries after standardizing the study period, diagnostic codes used to define the conditions and statistical analyses across countries. We use a population-based cohort, including all live-born children in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Western Australia, from January 1, 1990, through December 31, 2007 and followed through December 31, 2011. The main outcome measure is age-specific prevalence of diagnoses reported to population-based registry systems in each country. We observe an increase in age-specific prevalence for reported diagnoses of all four disorders across birth-year cohorts in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and (for ASD) Western Australia. Our results highlight the increase in the last 20 years in the number of children and families in contact with health care systems for diagnosis and services for an array of childhood neuropsychiatric disorders, a phenomenon not limited to ASD. Also, the age of diagnosis of the studied disorders was often much higher than what is known of the typical age of onset of symptoms, and we observe limited leveling off in the incidence rate with increasing age.
Cannabis remains one of the world’s most widely used substance of abuse amongst pregnant women. Trends of the last 50 years show an increase in popularity in child-bearing women together with a constant increase in cannabis potency. In addition, potent herbal “legal” highs containing synthetic cannabinoids that mimic the effects of cannabis with unknown pharmacological and toxicological effects have gained rapid popularity amongst young adults. Despite the surge in cannabis use during pregnancy, little is known about the neurobiological and psychological consequences in the exposed offspring. In this review, we emphasize the importance of maternal programming, defined as the intrauterine presentation of maternal stimuli to the foetus, in neurodevelopment. In particular, we focus on cannabis-mediated maternal adverse effects, resulting in direct central nervous system alteration or sensitization to late-onset chronic and neuropsychiatric disorders. We compare clinical and preclinical experimental studies on the effects of foetal cannabis exposure until early adulthood, to stress the importance of animal models that permit the fine control of environmental variables and allow the dissection of cannabis-mediated molecular cascades in the developing central nervous system. In sum, we conclude that preclinical experimental models confirm clinical studies and that cannabis exposure evokes significant molecular modifications to neurodevelopmental programs leading to neurophysiological and behavioural abnormalities.
Previous studies have shown that substance misuse in adolescence is associated with increased risks of hospitalizations for mental and physical disorders, convictions for crimes, poverty, and premature death from age 21 to 50. The present study examined 180 adolescent boys and girls who sought treatment for substance misuse in Sweden. The adolescents and their parents were assessed independently when the adolescents first contacted the clinic to diagnose mental disorders and collect information on maltreatment and antisocial behavior. Official criminal files were obtained. Five years later, 147 of the ex-clients again completed similar assessments. The objectives were (1) to document the prevalence of alcohol use disorders (AUD) and drug use disorders (DUD) in early adulthood; and (2) to identify family and individual factors measured in adolescence that predicted these disorders, after taking account of AUD and DUD in adolescence and treatment. Results showed that AUD, DUD, and AUD + DUD present in mid-adolescence were in most cases also present in early adulthood. Prediction models detected no positive effect of treatment in limiting persistence of these disorders. Thus, treatment-as-usual provided by the only psychiatric service for adolescents with substance misuse in a large urban center in Sweden failed to prevent the persistence of substance misuse. Despite extensive clinical assessments of the ex-clients and their parents, few factors assessed in mid-adolescence were associated with substance misuse disorders 5 years later. It may be that family and individual factors in early life promote the mental disorders that precede adolescent substance misuse.
Identifying environmental risk factors in the pathway to depression is an important research goal. To extend prior research, designs that rule out alternative explanatory factors; genetic effects and reverse causation, and permit tests of both parent and child gender are required. The present study used two different samples to address these issues. A longitudinal community sample of 316 families (157 boys, 159 girls) aged 11–12 years (mean 11.7) at Time 1 and 12–13 years at Time 2 (mean 12.7) was used to test the direction of effects between parent hostility and child and adolescent depression symptoms. A genetically sensitive sample of 1,075 twin pairs; 653 dizygotic (135 male, 183 female, 335 opposite sex) and 422 monozygotic (180 male and 242 female) aged 12–20 years (mean 16.12) was used to test whether parent hostility had environmental effects. Analyses were conducted separately by parent and child gender. Using cross-lagged panel analyses, the association between mother–daughter hostility and depression symptoms was found to be longitudinal and bidirectional with reciprocal effects between mothers and daughters. Behavioural genetic analyses in the twin sample revealed a significant environmental link between mother hostility and symptoms of daughter depression independent of genetic factors. A significant pathway was found between daughter depressive symptoms and father hostility but not vice versa. This association was accounted for by genetic factors in behavioural genetic analyses. Findings provide evidence of an environmental risk pathway to depression symptoms and identify patterns of variation according to parent and child gender. Results are discussed in relation to underlying explanatory processes and clinical implications.
A general assumption is that science is just organised commonsense. It is noted that translation involves a two-way pathway between basic laboratory science and patient care, and that some scientific findings have implications for prevention rather than treatment. A succinct critique follows on the key features that differentiate science and commonsense. The main part of the paper discusses six rather different examples of translation that went awry because people treated science and commonsense as equivalent. Examples based on empirical evidence of translation going awry include (i) the claim that only early intervention can bring lasting benefits; (ii) the claim that the main policy goal for children should be the elimination of all stresses; (iii) the claim that exposure in utero to maternal smoking causes ADHD and conduct disturbance; (iv) the claim that tax benefits should be used to encourage couples to marry; (v) the effects of profound institutional deprivation are similar to those of any adversity; and (vi) environmental effects are largely independent of genetic influences. Much of science is ‘unnatural’ in the sense that technical tools (such as imaging or DNA) are employed, or because animal models are used, or because unusual comparisons are made. Science cannot be based solely on an inductive process; rather, there must be some form of experiment and the testing of two or more alternative explanations. Translation needs to be based on top quality science and an appreciation that even the best science needs to take account of multiple strategies and multiple evaluations.
The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical characteristics of bipolar disorder I, II (BD I and II) and not otherwise specified (BD NOS) to those of major depressive disorder (MDD) in a clinical sample of Korean children and adolescents. This study was a cross-sectional review of longitudinal observational data. Two psychiatrists retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 198 children and adolescents (age 6–18) that were diagnosed as having bipolar or depressive disorders from March 2010 to February 2012 at Department of Psychiatry of Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea. Every subject’s diagnoses were reviewed and confirmed. BD I, II and MDD were assessed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV criteria. BD NOS was defined based on the criteria for the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Youth study. Comparisons were made in demographic information, clinical characteristics, family history, and psychiatric comorbidities at baseline and during observation. Among 198 subjects, 20 (10.1 %) subjects were diagnosed as having BD I, 10 (5.1 %) as BD II, 25 (12.6 %) as BD NOS and 143 (73.7 %) as MDD. BD depression was associated with mood change while taking an antidepressant, familial bipolarity, aggressive behaviors, and atypical features. Comorbid obsessive–compulsive disorder tended to be higher in BD NOS than in MDD. Presence of psychosocial stressors was more common in MDD than in BD depression. In children and adolescents, bipolar depression is distinct from unipolar depression in family history, comorbidity, and clinical characteristics.
Despite growing numbers of unaccompanied refugee minors (UMs) in Europe, and evidence that this group is at risk of developing mental health problems, there still remain important knowledge gaps regarding the development of UMs’ mental health during their trajectories in the host country and, in particular, the possible influencing role of traumatic experiences and daily stressors therein. This study therefore followed 103 UMs from the moment they arrived in Belgium until 18 months later. Traumatic experiences (SLE), mental health symptoms (HSCL-37A, RATS) and daily stressors (DSSYR) were measured at arrival in Belgium, after 6 and 18 months. UMs reported generally high scores on anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Linear mixed model analysis showed no significant differences in mental health scores over time, pointing towards the possible long-term persistence of mental health problems in this population. The number of traumatic experiences and the number of daily stressors leaded to a significant higher symptom level of depression (daily stressors), anxiety and PTSD (traumatic experiences and daily stressors). European migration policies need to reduce the impact of daily stressors on UMs’ mental health by ameliorating the reception and care facilities for this group. Moreover, regular mental health screenings are needed, in combination with, if needed, adapted psychosocial and therapeutic care.
Autism spectrum disorder, severe behaviour problems and duplication of the Xq12 to Xq13 region have recently been described in three male relatives. To describe the psychiatric comorbidity and dysmorphic features, including craniosynostosis, of two male siblings with autism and duplication of the Xq13 to Xq21 region, and attempt to narrow down the number of duplicated genes proposed to be leading to global developmental delay and autism. We performed DNA sequencing of certain exons of the TWIST1 gene, the FGFR2 gene and the FGFR3 gene. We also performed microarray analysis of the DNA. In addition to autism, the two male siblings exhibited severe learning disability, self-injurious behaviour, temper tantrums and hyperactivity, and had no communicative language. Chromosomal analyses were normal. Neither of the two siblings showed mutations of the sequenced exons known to produce craniosynostosis. The microarray analysis detected an extra copy of a region on the long arm of chromosome X, chromosome band Xq13.1–q21.1. Comparison of our two cases with previously described patients allowed us to identify three genes predisposing for autism in the duplicated chromosomal region. Sagittal craniosynostosis is also a new finding linked to the duplication.
Autism is a highly heritable and clinically heterogeneous neuropsychiatric disorder that frequently co-occurs with other psychopathologies, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). An approach to parse heterogeneity is by forming more homogeneous subgroups of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients based on their underlying, heritable cognitive vulnerabilities (endophenotypes). Emotion recognition is a likely endophenotypic candidate for ASD and possibly for ADHD. Therefore, this study aimed to examine whether emotion recognition is a viable endophenotypic candidate for ASD and to assess the impact of comorbid ADHD in this context. A total of 90 children with ASD (43 with and 47 without ADHD), 79 ASD unaffected siblings, and 139 controls aged 6–13 years, were included to test recognition of facial emotion and affective prosody. Our results revealed that the recognition of both facial emotion and affective prosody was impaired in children with ASD and aggravated by the presence of ADHD. The latter could only be partly explained by typical ADHD cognitive deficits, such as inhibitory and attentional problems. The performance of unaffected siblings could overall be considered at an intermediate level, performing somewhat worse than the controls and better than the ASD probands. Our findings suggest that emotion recognition might be a viable endophenotype in ASD and a fruitful target in future family studies of the genetic contribution to ASD and comorbid ADHD. Furthermore, our results suggest that children with comorbid ASD and ADHD are at highest risk for emotion recognition problems.
An underrepresentation of ethnic minority children in mental health care settings is consistently reported. Parents of ethnic minority children are, however, less likely to perceive problem behaviour in their children. Our hypothesis was that, as a result of ethnic differences in problem perception, referral to care by a child health professional (CHP) would be lower for 5- to 6-year-old (high-risk) children from ethnic minority backgrounds than for their peers from the ethnic majority (Dutch origin). For 10,951 children in grade two of elementary school, parents and/or teachers completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as well as questions on problem perception (PP) and perceived need for professional care (PN). Referral information was obtained from the Electronic Child Records (ECR) for 1,034 of these children. These children had a high (>90th percentile) SDQ score, and were not receiving mental health care. CHP’s referred 144 children (14 %) during the routine health assessments. A lower problem perception was reported by parents of ethnic minority children (40–72 %) than by parents of the ethnic majority group (80 %; p < 0.001), but there were no ethnic differences in referral (OR range 0.9–1.9-p > 0.05). No ethnic differences were found for parental PN, nor for teacher’s PP or PN. Despite a lower problem perception in ethnic minority parents when compared to ethnic majority parents, no ethnic differences were found in referral of children with problem behaviour in a preventive health care setting.
The purpose of this study was to test child and adolescent psychosocial and psychopathological risk factors as predictors of adult criminal outcomes in a Swiss community sample. In particular, the role of active and avoidant problem coping in youths was analysed. Prevalence rates of young adult crime convictions based on register data were calculated. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were used to analyse the prediction of adult criminal convictions 15 years after assessment in a large Swiss community sample of children and adolescents (n = 1,086). Risk factors assessed in childhood and adolescence included socio-economic status (SES), migration background, perceived parental behaviour, familial and other social stressors, coping styles, externalizing and internalizing problems and drug abuse including problematic alcohol consumption. The rate of any young adult conviction was 10.1 %. Besides externalizing problems and problematic alcohol consumption, the presence of any criminal conviction in young adulthood was predicted by low SES and avoidant coping even after controlling for the effects of externalizing problems and problematic alcohol use. The other predictors were significant only when externalizing behaviours and problematic alcohol use were not controlled. In addition to child and adolescent externalizing behaviour problems and substance use, low SES and inadequate problem-solving skills, in terms of avoidant coping, are major risk factors of young adult criminal outcomes and need to be considered in forensic research and criminal prevention programs.
The presence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in male war veterans has been linked with family dysfunction and psychopathology in their children [1, 2]. This study aimed to evaluate self-reported emotional and behavioral symptoms, parent–adolescent bonding and family functioning in clinically referred adolescent offspring of Croatian PTSD war veterans and determine the degree that parent–child bonding and family functioning contributed to adolescent behavior problems. Internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, parent–child bonding and family functioning were assessed in a sample of clinically referred Croatian PTSD veterans adolescent offspring (N = 122) and non-PTSD veteran adolescent offspring (N = 122) matched for age, sex, educational level, family income, parental employment status, ethnicity, and residential area. Youth Self-Report, Parental Bonding Instrument, Family Assessment Device were used. Adolescent offspring of PTSD veterans reported having significantly more internalizing and externalizing problems than non-PTSD veteran offspring, and also more difficulties in their family functioning, lower levels of maternal and paternal care, and more impaired mother–child and father–child bonding than control subjects. Internalizing symptoms were associated with family dysfunction, while externalizing symptoms were associated with paternal overcontrol/overprotection, and low maternal and paternal care. In conclusion, the increase in internalizing and externalizing symptoms as well as family and parental dysfunction among clinically referred adolescent offspring of PTSD veterans compared to their non-PTSD veteran counterparts indicates a need for early detection and interventions targeting both adolescent psychopathology and family relationships.
Evidence suggests that substance use disorders (SUD) tend to be underdiagnosed in psychiatry. The objective of this study was to investigate whether drug and alcohol screening is a clinical routine in the assessment of two prominent neurodevelopmental disorders, namely ADHD and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We surveyed drug and alcohol screening routines in 34 general child and adolescent (only practice for adolescents, not children, was assessed) and 29 adult psychiatric outpatient departments in Stockholm County, Sweden. Structured telephone interviews mapping SUD screening procedures were conducted with department representatives in charge. Only a minority of child and adolescent departments regularly used SUD screening questionnaires (6 %) in ADHD and ASD assessment, while this was more common in adult psychiatry (55 %). Urine/blood-based toxicology tests were always used in 28 % and sometimes or in case of clinical suspicion in 38 % of the adult units. Such tests were used sometimes or in case of clinical suspicion in 15 % of the child psychiatric departments, but never routinely. Findings reveal that screening for SUD in ADHD and ASD is not an integral part of routine clinical assessments in psychiatry, although increasingly an integral part of many clinical guidelines. Thus, SUD might be underdiagnosed in neurodevelopmental disorders, which could be particularly true for child and adolescent psychiatry settings.
Examine the hospital admission risk in young children who are subsequently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We conducted a population-based, record linkage study. Records of all non-Aboriginal children under 18 years who met the DSMIV/ICD10 criteria for ADHD and prescribed stimulant medication in Western Australia between 2003 and 2007 (n = 11,902) were linked to two other health data systems—the hospital morbidity data system and the midwives notification system (MNS). The non-ADHD reference population (n = 27,304) was randomly selected from the MNS. Compared with controls, children under 4 years who subsequently were diagnosed and treated for ADHD were 70 % [odds ratio (OR) 1.70; 95 % confidence intervals (CI) 1.62–1.77] more likely to be admitted to hospital under 4 years of age. There was an increased risk for injury or poison (OR 1.73; 95 % CI 1.59–1.88), respiratory disease (OR 1.49; 95 % CI 1.40–1.59), ear disease (OR 2.03; 95 % CI 1.86–2.21), infectious diseases (OR 1.68; 95 % CI 1.53–1.85) and neurological conditions (OR 2.03; 95 % CI 1.68–2.44). Admissions under 4 years of age for head injuries, burns, poisons, all other injuries, diseases of the tonsils and adenoids, asthma and early infections were all more common amongst children subsequently diagnosed with and treated for ADHD. There is significant early hospital morbidity for children subsequently diagnosed with ADHD. Multiple aetiologies and causal pathways need to be considered where some of these may include early infections, inflammatory conditions, epilepsy and injuries. Future studies should look at which of these conditions may be on the causal pathway or likely early markers for ADHD.
Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by recurrent motor and vocal tics, often accompanied by obsessive–compulsive disorder and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. While the evidence for a genetic contribution is strong, its exact nature has yet to be clarified fully. There is now mounting evidence that the genetic risks for TS include both common and rare variants and may involve complex multigenic inheritance or, in rare cases, a single major gene. Based on recent progress in many other common disorders with apparently similar genetic architectures, it is clear that large patient cohorts and open-access repositories will be essential to further advance the field. To that end, the large multicenter Tourette International Collaborative Genetics (TIC Genetics) study was established. The goal of the TIC Genetics study is to undertake a comprehensive gene discovery effort, focusing both on familial genetic variants with large effects within multiply affected pedigrees and on de novo mutations ascertained through the analysis of apparently simplex parent–child trios with non-familial tics. The clinical data and biomaterials (DNA, transformed cell lines, RNA) are part of a sharing repository located within the National Institute for Mental Health Center for Collaborative Genomics Research on Mental Disorders, USA, and will be made available to the broad scientific community. This resource will ultimately facilitate better understanding of the pathophysiology of TS and related disorders and the development of novel therapies. Here, we describe the objectives and methods of the TIC Genetics study as a reference for future studies from our group and to facilitate collaboration between genetics consortia in the field of TS.
The Pressure–Activation–Stress (PAS) scale is a self-report questionnaire for children concerning perceived stress. To explore behavioral and physiological correlates, we investigated if scores discriminate between a group prone to perceive high levels of stress [children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)] and a healthy school sample, and if they are associated with diurnal cortisol levels. The PAS scale was filled in at home by children (11–17 years) with clinically confirmed ADHD (n = 102) and non-affected comparisons (n = 146). Saliva samples were collected four times during a regular school day for radioimmunoassay analysis of cortisol. Subtypes and severity of ADHD symptoms were determined using parental rating scales. Children with ADHD scored higher on the PAS scale than a school sample. The PAS scores were similar over ages in the ADHD group while they increased with age in the healthy group. Female sex was associated with higher stress in both groups but no gender interaction was found. No association was found between PAS scores and cortisol levels in neither group. Children in the ADHD group had a lower ratio of cortisol levels/perceived stress on all sampling occasions, built up both by the higher PAS scores and the lower cortisol levels in children with ADHD. The higher PAS scores in children with ADHD support the validity of the scale. The lack of association between PAS scores and diurnal cortisol levels is intriguing and illustrates the complexity of the stress concept. Stress-related fragility seems to accompany ADHD during childhood.
Indicated prevention of ADHD may reduce impairment and need of treatment in youth. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a brief questionnaire assessing child mental health, reported to be a valid screening instrument for concurrent ADHD. This study aimed to examine the validity of using the SDQ in preschool age to predict ADHD in school age in a longitudinal design. The study population included 2,315 children from the Copenhagen child cohort 2000 with no prior history of clinically diagnosed ADHD, who were assessed at age 5–7 years by the SDQ completed by parents and preschool teachers. Danish National Registers were used to measure the outcome of any first time ICD-10 diagnosis for hyperkinetic disorder or attention-deficit disorder and/or prescription of central stimulants during years 2005–2012. Screening potentials of the SDQ’s predictive algorithms were described, and Cox regression analyses estimated the risk of later ADHD diagnosis for screen-positive children. A total of 2.94 % of the study population were clinically diagnosed and/or were treated with central stimulants for ADHD before age 11–12. Children with possible/probable disorder according to the SDQ hyperactivity/inattention algorithm showed markedly increased risk of a subsequent ADHD diagnosis, hazard ratio 20.65 (CI 95 % 12.71–33.57) and sensitivity 45.6 %. Other domains of psychopathology according to the SDQ were also associated with an increased risk of receiving a subsequent ADHD diagnosis. In summary, we show that the SDQ can identify a group of children with highly increased risk of later being diagnosed and/or treated for ADHD in school age.
Temperament and psychopathology are intimately related; however, research on the prospective associations between positive emotionality, defined as a child’s positive mood states and high engagement with the environment, and psychopathology is inconclusive. We examined the longitudinal relation between positive emotionality and internalizing problems in young children from the general population. Furthermore, we explored whether executive functioning mediates any observed association. Within a population-based Dutch birth cohort, we observed positive emotionality in 802 children using the laboratory temperament assessment battery at age 3 years. Child behavior checklist (CBCL) internalizing problems (consisting of Emotionally Reactive, Anxious/Depressed, and Withdrawn scales) were assessed at age 6 years. Parents rated their children’s executive functioning at ages 4 years. Children with a lower positive emotionality at age 3 had a higher risk of withdrawn problems at age 6 years (OR = 1.20 per SD decrease in positive emotionality score, 95 % CI: 1.01, 1.42). This effect was not explained by preexisting internalizing problems. This association was partly mediated by more problems in the shifting domain of executive functioning (p < 0.001). We did not find any relation between positive emotionality and the CBCL emotionally reactive or anxious/depressed scales. Although the effect sizes were moderate, our results suggest that low levels of positive emotionality at preschool age can result in children’s inflexibility and rigidity later in life. The inflexibility and rigidity are likely to affect the child’s drive to engage with the environment, and thereby lead to withdrawn problems. Further research is needed to replicate these findings.
It is well-known that childhood adversities can have long-term effects on mental health, but a lot remains to be learned about the risk they bring about for a first onset of various psychiatric disorders, and how this risk develops over time. In the present study, which was based on a Dutch longitudinal population survey of adolescents TRAILS (N = 1,584), we investigated whether and how childhood adversities, as assessed with three different measures, affected the risk of developing an incident depressive, anxiety, or disruptive behavior in childhood and adolescence. In addition, we tested gender differences in any of the effects under study. The results indicated that depressive, anxiety and disruptive behavior disorders each had their own, characteristic, pattern of associations with childhood adversities across childhood and adolescence, which was maintained after adjustment for comorbid disorders. For depressive disorders, the overall pattern suggested a high excess risk of incidence during childhood, which decreased during adolescence. Anxiety disorders were characterized by a moderately increased incident risk during childhood, which remained approximately stable over time. Disruptive behavior disorders took an intermediate position. Of the three childhood adversities tested, an overall rating of the stressfulness of the childhood appeared to predict onset of psychiatric disorders best. To conclude, the risk of developing a psychiatric disorder after exposure to adversities early in life depends on the nature of the adversities, the nature of the outcome, and the time that has passed since the adversities without disorder onset.
The greater burden of illness in youth with co-occurring attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) deserves further investigation, specifically regarding the influence of other psychiatric or medical conditions and the pharmacotherapies prescribed. A retrospective cohort design was employed, using South Carolina’s (USA) Medicaid claims’ dataset covering outpatient and inpatient medical services, and medication prescriptions between January, 1996 and December, 2006 for patients ≤17 years of age. The cohort included 22,452 cases diagnosed with ADHD at a mean age 7.8 years; 1,259 (5.6 %) cases were diagnosed with MDD at a mean age of 12.1 years. The probability of a child with ADHD developing MDD was significantly associated with a comorbid anxiety disorder (aOR = 3.53), CD/ODD (aOR = 3.45), or a substance use disorder (aOR = 2.31); being female (aOR = 1.77); being treated with pemoline (aOR = 1.69), atomoxetine (aOR = 1.31), or mixed amphetamine salts (aOR = 1.28); a comorbid obesity diagnosis (aOR = 1.29); not being African American (aOR = 1.23), and being older at ADHD diagnosis (aOR = 1.09). Those developing MDD also developed several comorbid disorders later than the ADHD-only cohort, i.e., conduct disorder/oppositional-defiant disorder (CD/ODD), at mean age of 10.8 years, obesity at 11.6 years, generalized anxiety disorder at 12.2 years, and a substance use disorder at 15.7 years of age. Incident MDD was more likely in individuals clustering several demographic, clinical, and treatment factors. The phenotypic progression suggested herein underscores the need for coordinated early detection and intervention to prevent or delay syndromal MDD, or to minimize its severity and associated impairment over time.
The Transcription Factor Activating Protein-2β (TFAP-2β) gene has been shown to influence monoaminergic neurotransmission, and several genes important for monoaminergic function have binding sites for TFAP-2β. Familial studies of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) suggest a hereditary-determined subtype of ADHD with comorbid depression. We examined a functional variation of the TFAP-2β gene in the context of co-occurring symptoms of ADHD and depression in two independent population-based samples of adolescents (Group A, n = 175 and Group B, n = 1,506) from Sweden. Results indicated 6.1 to 7.8 % of adolescents screened positively for ADHD and depression symptoms. Symptoms of depression were more common among girls who screened positively for ADHD and did not carry the nine-repeat allele of the TFAP-2β intron 1 Variable Number Tandem Repeat (VNTR) polymorphism. The presence of the nine-repeat variant of the TFAP-2β intron 1 VNTR appears to protect girls with ADHD symptoms from the co-expression of symptoms of depression.
We compared four instruments commonly used to screen for and diagnose Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. The Bergen Child Study included a DSM-IV ADHD symptom list and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as screen in Phase one. Phase two included the parent Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA), whereas Phase three comprised in-depth clinical assessment, including the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School Aged Children (K-SADS). We compared ADHD as diagnosed by the four instruments in the children with normal intellectual functioning participating in all three phases (N = 234). The DSM-IV ADHD symptom list showed moderate agreement with all other instruments (κ = 0.53–0.57), whereas there was fair agreement between the K-SADS-DAWBA (κ = 0.31) and between SDQ–DAWBA (κ = 0.33). The DAWBA diagnosed fewer children with ADHD than did the other instruments. Implications for use of the instruments are discussed.
Depression is an incapacitating disorder, which is often overlooked in preschool children. The aim of this study was to analyse the prevalence of depressive symptoms and co-occurring risk factors in a large, population-based sample of preschool children. All 653 children (of a total of 731) in a defined geographical area were assessed during the school-entry exam by community care paediatricians. In addition to clinical appraisal, parents filled out the Preschool Feelings Checklist, a 16-item screening instrument with good psychometric properties. The mean age was 6.2 years (range 5.0–7.6 years) and the sample included 344 boys and 305 girls. The prevalence of depressive symptoms of clinical relevance (total score ≥3) was 5.7 % (37). There were no differences between boys and girls, and between younger (<6 years) and older (>6 years) children. Depressive symptoms were associated with parental separation and comorbid behavioural problems, but especially with developmental motor and speech problems and disorders. Migration to Germany had no influence. Depressive symptoms are common in preschool children and associated with developmental problems. Depression should be considered in children with speech and motor problems who are at special risk. Early detection and treatment are recommended.
Autism is a categorical developmental disorder characterized by impairment in socialization, communication, and by restricted and circumscribed interests. Several authors have described the presence of subthreshold autistic traits in the general population, pervasive developmental disorders representing the extreme end of their distribution. In this study, we explored the presence of autistic traits in siblings and parents of a proband with autism, and in siblings and parents of a normally developing child, using the previously validated self-report French Autism Quotient, an adaptation of the AQ developed by S. Baron-Cohen. Scores were distributed between two main factors, F1 corresponding to socialization and communication, F2 to imagination and rigidity. Here, we show that both parents and siblings of a child with autism have more symptomatic scores in the domains of communication and socialization. In addition, we show that in these families the parents, but not the siblings, are distributed across different subcategories, according to their scores for the F1 and F2 domains. We hypothesize that these different subgroups may correspond to different underlying genetic mechanisms.
Anxiety disorders and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) develop before school age, but little is known about early developmental pathways. Here we test two hypotheses: first, that early signs of anxiety and ADHD at 18 months predict symptoms of anxiety and ADHD at age 3½ years; second, that emotional dysregulation at 18 months predicts the outcome of co-occurring anxiety and ADHD at age 3½ years. The study was part of the prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The 628 participants were clinically assessed at 3½ years. Questionnaire data collected at 18 months were categorized into early behavioural scales of anxiety, ADHD, and emotional dysregulation. We investigated continuity in features of anxiety and ADHD from 18 months to 3½ years of age through logistic regression analyses. Anxiety symptoms at 3½ years were predicted by early signs of anxiety (Odds ratio (OR) = 1.41, CI = 1.15–1.73) and emotional dysregulation (OR = 1.33, CI = 1.15–1.54). ADHD symptoms at 3½ years were predicted by early signs of ADHD (OR = 1.51, CI = 1.30–1.76) and emotional dysregulation (OR = 1.31, CI = 1.13–1.51). Co-occurring anxiety and ADHD symptoms at 3½ years were predicted by early signs of anxiety (OR = 1.43, CI = 1.13–1.84), ADHD (OR = 1.30, CI = 1.11–1.54), and emotional dysregulation (OR = 1.34, CI = 1.13–1.58). We conclude that there were modest continuities in features of anxiety and ADHD through early preschool years, while emotional dysregulation at age 18 months was associated with symptoms of anxiety, ADHD, and co-occurring anxiety and ADHD at age 3½ years.
The purpose of this study was to examine several behavioral problems in school-aged hearing-impaired children with hearing aids or cochlear implants, compared to normally hearing children. Additionally, we wanted to investigate which sociodemographic, linguistic, and medical factors contributed to the level of behavioral problems, to pinpoint where targeted interventions can take place. This large, retrospective study included a sample of 261 school-aged children (mean age = 11.8 years, SD = 1.6), that consisted of three age- and gender-matched subgroups: 75 with hearing aids, 57 with cochlear implants, and 129 normally hearing controls. Self- and parent-reports concerning reactive and proactive aggression, delinquency, and symptoms of psychopathy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder were used. In addition, several language and intelligence tests were administered. Hearing-impaired children showed significantly more proactive aggression, symptoms of psychopathy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder than their normally hearing peers. More behavioral problems were associated with special schools for the deaf, sign (-supported) language, hearing aids (in contrast to cochlear implants), higher age, male gender, lower socioeconomic status, lower intelligence, and delayed language development. Hearing-impaired children face multiple problems regarding their behavior. The outcomes implicate that professionals should be aware of the higher risk of developing behavioral problems, in order to screen, detect, and treat in time. Furthermore, the associated risk and protective factors emphasize that clinicians must always consider the heterogeneity of the group of hearing-impaired children, in order to help and support the individual patient.
Homocystinuria due to cystathionine β-synthase deficiency is an inborn error of metabolism first described almost 50 years ago, which involves the accumulation of plasma homocysteine and other metabolites. Without early detection and appropriate treatment, common and sometimes lethal consequences include ocular abnormalities, osteoporosis, developmental delays, marfanoid phenotype, vascular disease, and mental retardation. Almost 50 % of subjects develop a psychiatric disorder during their life, but only 2.8 % present a psychiatric symptom as the initial manifestation. Among this group, psychotic disorders are infrequent. We describe the case of a 17-year-old boy presenting with a first episode psychosis and an unknown homocystinuria due to cystathionine β-synthase deficiency, which led to a lethal outcome.
Although aggression is part of daily life in psychiatric units for adolescents, empirical data on its prevalence are sparse. Only few studies have described prevalence of aggressive incidents in adolescent psychiatric wards, and data in forensic psychiatric care are even more limited. Available studies reported high prevalence rates of aggression, ranging from 0.4 to 2.4 incidents of aggression per day across (forensic) child and adolescent psychiatric units. Between 27 and 78 % of all admitted youth committed an aggressive act. In this study, we collected systematically registered data of all aggressive incidents from the first 2 years (2010–2012) on a newly established forensic adolescent psychiatric unit, which used a formal aggression management program embedded in the social competence model, which is based on early intervention in the ‘chain of behavior’ to prevent any further escalation. The inclusion of also minor aggressive incidents is unique in the literature and the clinical relevance is highlighted. A mean of one incident a day took place, with each adolescent involved in at least one incident. Notably, 1.7 aggressive incidents per month made seclusion of restraint use necessary. Based on the social competence theory, the aggression management model suggests intervening early in the cascade of aggression, in order to prevent further escalation and reduce the need for intrusive interventions. Evidence supported that aggression is a contextual event, as external factors clearly influence the incidence of aggression. Aggression management should be built on both relational and structural security.
With marital breakdown and discord relatively common, we examined whether family structure and the quality of marital relationship have a long-term impact on offspring’s psychopathology in early adulthood. This study aimed to examine the association of family structure and marital discord in the family with a wide range of offspring’s mental health and problem behaviours at 21 years. Data were from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy, a population based birth cohort study, which commenced in Brisbane, Australia in 1981. Mothers and children were followed up at birth, 6 months and 5, 14 and 21 years after the initial interview. Marital status and marital quality were assessed at the 14 year follow-up. Young Adult Self-Report sub-scales of mental health and problem behaviours were measured at the 21-year follow-up. Type of family structure and the quality of marital relationship (at the 14-year follow-up) predicted offspring’s psychopathology at 21 years. When a selected group of confounding factors were included in the multivariate analyses, children who lived with a step-father, un-partnered mother, or in families where parents had conflict in marital relationship reported higher symptoms of psychopathology at 21 years. The association between marital problems and young adult psychopathology does not appear to be confounded by a wide range of confounding variables. Further research is needed to explore the mechanism of these associations to develop preventive programmes.
Motivation is considered a pivotal factor in treatment, but a better understanding of this topic is needed. Drieschner et al. (Clin Psychol Rev 23:1115–1137, 2004) proposed to distinguish treatment motivation and treatment engagement. This study aimed to discover whether it is possible to identify classes of adolescents with severe psychiatric problems having comparable profiles of treatment engagement. To this end, professionals filled out the Treatment Engagement Rating Scale 5 times for 49 adolescents (mean age 18.3 years; SD = 1.6) during the first year of case management treatment. Using a longitudinal latent class analysis, the number of profiles of treatment engagement was investigated and described. Results identified three profiles: high (19 clients, 39 %), medium (20 clients, 41 %) and low (10 clients, 20 %). Adolescents with a high engagement profile were at first equally, and later on more engaged in treatment than clients with a medium engagement profile. Adolescents with a low engagement profile made the least effort to engage, except after 30 weeks. Adolescents with a low engagement profile were often substance-dependent males with the lowest scores on the Global Assessment of Functioning Scale after a year. Only adolescents with a high engagement profile improved on global functioning. In conclusion, it is possible to identify different treatment engagement profiles by asking one question about level of global treatment engagement. Frequent assessment of engagement of the individual client as well as including a behavioural component into assessment and treatment may help to improve case management treatment for adolescents with medium and low engagement profiles.
This study examines differences in self-reported mental health problems between detained youths from Dutch, Moroccan, and Surinamese origin and the usefulness of mental health problems to predict violent and property recidivism in these juveniles. A sample of 296 detained boys aged between 12 and 18 years were assessed by means of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Official information regarding criminal history and recidivism was collected 3–6 years later. In general, Dutch youths and Surinamese youths reported more conduct problems than Moroccan youths, while Dutch youths also reported more hyperactivity than Surinamese youths. Mental health problems were not predictive of violent recidivism in any of the ethnic groups, while being related with property recidivism in Dutch and Surinamese youths. The current study showed that Moroccan youths present themselves on the SDQ as a less seriously disturbed group of youths than their Dutch and Surinamese counterparts. Our results also clearly showed that SDQ self-report scores are not predictive of future violent crimes in any of the three ethnic groups. Implications of the findings and limitations of the current study are discussed.
We performed an updated review of the available literature on weight gain and increase of body mass index (BMI) among children and adolescents treated with antipsychotic medications. A PubMed search was conducted specifying the following MeSH terms: (antipsychotic agents) hedged with (weight gain) or (body mass index). We selected 127 reports, including 71 intervention trials, 42 observational studies and 14 literature reviews. Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs), in comparison with first-generation antipsychotics, are associated with a greater risk for antipsychotic-induced weight gain although this oversimplification should be clarified by distinguishing across different antipsychotic drugs. Among SGAs, olanzapine appears to cause the most significant weight gain, while ziprasidone seems to cause the least. Antipsychotic-induced BMI increase appears to remain regardless of the specific psychotropic co-treatment. Children and adolescents seem to be at a greater risk than adults for antipsychotic-induced weight gain; and the younger the child, the higher the risk. Genetic or environmental factors related to antipsychotic-induced weight gain among children and adolescents are mostly unknown, although certain genetic factors related to serotonin receptors or hormones such as leptin, adiponectin or melanocortin may be involved. Strategies to reduce this antipsychotic side effect include switching to another antipsychotic drug, lowering the dosage or initiating treatment with metformin or topiramate, as well as non-pharmacological interventions. Future research should avoid some methodological limitations such as not accounting for age- and sex-adjusted BMI (zBMI), small sample size, short period of treatment, great heterogeneity of diagnoses and confounding by indication.
Self-cutting as a form of self-harm is a common and multifaceted phenomenon among adolescents. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the location of self-cutting (arms or other areas of the body) could help to assess the severity of the underlying psychiatric problems. A sample of adolescents who reported self-cutting (n = 440) was drawn from a large sample of community adolescents (n = 4,019). The majority of self-cutting adolescents, 296 (67.2 %), reported cutting only the upper arms, while 144 (32.8 %) also cut other parts of the body. The data included a structured self-rating questionnaire, questions about self-cutting, the Youth Self-Report (YSR) for adolescents aged 11–18 years, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and the Adolescent Dissociative Experience Scale (A-DES). The results indicate that self-cutting on other parts of body than the arms was associated with female gender, a wide range of emotional and dissociative symptoms and suicidal ideation. In logistic regression analysis, the most pronounced association between self-cutting on other places than the arms was found with YSR subscales withdrawn/depressed, social problems and thought problems, and dissociation (A-DES). We conclude that self-cutting adolescents, mostly girls, with wounds elsewhere than on the arms present with the most serious psychiatric symptoms. It is important to perform a careful physical examination when an adolescent has unexplained wounds or scars on the arms or on other parts of the body. These adolescents also need a caring and conscientious psychiatric examination and possible psychiatric treatment.
The off-label use of drugs in children and adolescents is widespread. In Germany, the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other antidepressants (OADs) is not licensed for the treatment of depressive disorders in children and adolescents except for fluoxetine, which was approved in 2006. Against this background, antidepressant drug (ATD) use with a particular focus on off-label prescribing was characterised in a retrospective cohort study including cross-sectional analyses based on claims data of 2,599,685 patients up to 17 years of age. Prevalence of ATD use was 1.84 (95 % CI 1.78–1.90) per 1,000 children in 2004, 1.57 (95 % CI 1.52–1.62) in 2005 and 1.66 (95 % CI 1.61–1.72) in 2006. More than half of all children treated with ATDs (51.29 %) received only one single prescription of an ATD during the study period. Of all prescribed ATDs, 11,172 (42.09 %) were tricyclic antidepressants 9,179 (34.58 %) were SSRIs, 4,371 (16.47 %) were St John’s wort preparations and 1,821 (6.86 %) were OADs. Around half of all children and adolescents who were treated with ATDs were diagnosed with depressive disorders (56.30 %). Overall, 13,035 (49.11 %) of all ATDs were prescribed off-label. Off-label use by age (40.18 %) was found to be more common than off-label use by indication (16.63 %) with 7.70 % of off-label use occurring in both categories. Specialist treatment by hospital-based physicians increased the risk (odds ratio: 2.26, 95 % CI 2.05–2.48) of receiving an off-label prescription compared to treatment by general practitioners. In summary, off-label use of ATDs in children and adolescents was substantial in Germany.