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Is juvenile obsessive-compulsive disorder a developmental subtype of the disorder? A review of the pediatric literature.

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  • 1Joint Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit, Massachusetts General and McLean Hospitals, Belmont, MA 02178, USA.



To examine the clinical correlates of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents.


A systematic review of the extant literature on juvenile OCD was conducted examining age at onset, gender distribution, symptom phenomenology, psychiatric comorbidity, neurological and perinatal history, family psychiatric history, cognitive and neuropsychological profiles, and treatment and outcome in juvenile OCD subjects.


Juvenile OCD was associated with a unique peak of age at onset indicating a bimodal incidence of the disorder, male preponderance, a distinct pattern of comorbidity with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other developmental disorders as well as frequent associated neuropsychological deficits, an increased familial loading for OCD, and frequent absence of insight.


These findings show that juvenile OCD is associated with a unique set of correlates that appear to differ from findings reported in studies of adult OCD subjects. Although in need of confirmation, these findings suggest that juvenile OCD may be a developmental subtype of the disorder. Since juvenile OCD is likely to continue into adulthood, these findings stress the importance of considering age at onset in clinical and research studies of adults with OCD.

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