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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004 Sep;192(9):607-14.

Phenomenology of childhood psychosis: findings from a large sample of psychiatrically referred youth.

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  • 1Clinical Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.


Our objective was to evaluate the scope and clinical correlates of psychotic phenomena in psychiatrically referred children and adolescents. Subjects were 1657 psychiatrically referred youth (mean age = 10.9 years) evaluated from 1991 to 2002. DSM-III-R diagnoses were obtained through maternal report by using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children-Epidemiologic Version. Childhood-onset psychosis was defined by the presence of delusions or hallucinations. Childhood-onset psychosis was identified in 8% of psychiatrically referred youth. It was associated with a chronic course and high levels of impairment. Comorbidity with disruptive, mood, and anxiety disorders was very severe, with only one of the 132 identified youth with psychosis not having at least one comorbidity. In conclusion, childhood-onset psychosis in referred youth is common and highly morbid. It remains an important topic of research deserving full clinical and scientific attention.

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