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Schizophr Res. 2012 May;137(1-3):151-8. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.02.012. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Medical and developmental risk factors of catatonia in children and adolescents: a prospective case-control study.

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Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et Robotiques, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, AP-HP, 47-83 Boulevard de l'Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France.



Rare diseases have been associated with more and more genetic and non genetic causes and risk factors. But this has not been systematically assessed in catatonia, one of the psychiatric syndromes, that is most frequently associated with medical condition.


We sought to assess the medical and developmental risk factors of catatonia in children and adolescents.


From 1993 to 2009, 58 youths aged 10 to 18 years were prospectively admitted for catatonia and were followed up after discharge. A multidisciplinary approach assessed patients' medical condition and developmental history. A causality assessment scored medical risk (maximum score=10; κ=0.91). We compared the prevalence of catatonia in these patients to that of 80 inpatients with bipolar I disorder admitted from 1993 to 2003 who were also followed up.


We found that 13 (22.4%) patients had medical conditions and 18 (31%) had a history of developmental disorder in the catatonia group, whereas 1 (1.3%) and 17 (22.6%) patients had the same conditions in the bipolar group (p<0.001; p=0.17, respectively). Medical conditions associated with catatonia included auto-immune encephalitis (systemic lupus erythematosus [N=3] and anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis [N=1]), seizures (N=1), ciclosporin encephalitis (N=1), post hypoglycaemic coma encephalitis (N=1), and genetic or metabolic conditions (chorea [N=2], 5HT cerebrospinal fluid deficit [N=1], storage disease [N=1], fatal familial insomnia [FFI; N=1], and PRODH mutations [N=1]). Six patients responded to a specific treatment approach related to their medical condition (e.g., plasma exchange in the case of auto-immune encephalitis).


Catatonia in children and adolescents is associated with a high prevalence of medical conditions. This needs to be acknowledged as it may greatly delay the treatment of catatonia and the diagnosis of medically related catatonia. Tragically, this may deny patients treatment opportunities.

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