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Preschool boys with oppositional defiant disorder: clinical presentation and diagnostic change.

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University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98105, USA.



Little is known about the clinical presentation and course of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) when first diagnosed in the preschool years. Patterns of ODD symptomatology, comorbidity, persistence of disorder, and predictors of diagnostic outcome were examined in clinic-referred preschool boys.


Boys (aged 4-5.5 years) with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of ODD were prospectively followed over a 2-year period. Multiple assessment procedures were used, including a modified version of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children and parent and teacher ratings.


Ninety-two boys (mean age 56.9 months) with ODD were followed; 42 had comorbid attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Among 79 boys assessed 2 years later, 76% had ODD, ADHD, or both. Of those, 25% had other diagnoses as well, primarily anxiety and/or mood disorders. Conduct disorder was rare. Subjects with comorbid ODD/ADHD at intake were significantly more likely to have a psychiatric disorder at follow-up, especially ADHD alone.


The findings suggest that ODD in the preschool period is a clear indicator of high risk, especially when co-occurring with ADHD. Further investigation of individual patterns of ODD symptom expression is recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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