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Brain Dev. 1999 Oct;21(7):447-52.

The natural history of somatic morbidity in disintegrative psychosis and infantile autism: a validation study.

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  • 1Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.


In order to study the validity of disintegrative psychosis (DP) as defined in ICD-9, we compared the natural history of somatic morbidity of 13 patients given this diagnosis in childhood with a control group of 39 patients with infantile autism (IA) matched for gender, age, IQ and social class. Average follow-up time was 22 and 23 (11-33) years, respectively. Significantly more DP patients (85 versus 41%) had been admitted to a non-psychiatric hospital during the follow-up period. They also had significantly more admissions (3.6 versus 1.0) and stayed longer in hospital (78 versus 4 days) than patients with IA. Three of the DP individuals had an associated medical disorder and made extensive use of somatic services during the follow-up period. Altogether the DP group had utilised the medical health care system more than patients with IA suggesting that they had more medical symptoms than the IA group. On the whole our findings suggest that individuals with DP and IA should be conceptualised as essentially distinct and should be studied separately as regards aetiology, pathophysiology, course and treatment.

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