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J Clin Invest. 2009 Apr;119(4):737-46. doi: 10.1172/JCI37563. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder: are they just "little adults"?

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National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Childhood-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects 1%-2% of children and adolescents. It is characterized by recurrent obsessions and compulsions that create distress and interfere with daily life. The symptoms reported by children are similar to those seen among individuals who develop OCD in adulthood, and the two groups of patients are treated with similar symptom-relieving behavior therapies and medications. However, there are differences in sex ratios, patterns of comorbidity, and the results of neuroimaging studies that might be important. Here we review the diagnosis and treatment of childhood-onset OCD in light of pediatric and adult studies. We also discuss current knowledge of the pathophysiology of the disorder. Despite advances in this area, further research is needed to understand better the etiopathogenesis of the disorder and to develop new, more effective therapeutic options.

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