Comparing Childhood Mental Illnesses

Mental illness found in seven percent of Norwegian babies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When do mental illnesses start to display symptoms? A recent study shed light on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in children, and the differences between the United States and another country.

Available through the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, a recent study into thousands of preschoolers identifies traits of common psychiatric disorders in young children.

These researchers recently found signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression in four-year-olds.

"Watch for mental illness symptoms in your child. "

Lars Wichstrøm, PhD, professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, understands that mental illness does not develop overnight, leading an investigation into the prevalence of psychiatric disorder amongst preschool children.

Working through a community health clinic in Trondheim, Norway, 995 children born in 2003 or 2004 volunteered and completed a mental health screening using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as well as the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment (PAPA).

While SDQ identified behavioral and emotional problems, PAPA provided a comprehensive, structured review for diagnosis.

Though much less than in young adult populations, the estimated rate of psychiatric illness in these Norwegian preschoolers was 7.1 percent. Of those, the most common were depressive disorders (2.0 percent), ADHD (1.9 percent), oppositional defiant disorder (1.8 percent), anxiety disorders (1.5 percent), and conduct disorder (0.7 percent).

Overall, more emotional and behavioral health issues were found in homes with separated parents and in low income families. Male children constituted a larger percentage of ADHD and depression cases than girls, and comorbidity of mental illnesses was common.

According to Dr. Wichstrom, “The prevalence of disorders among preschoolers was lower than in previous studies from the USA.”

Statistics available through the National Institute of Mental Health report that just over 20 percent of US children ages 13 to 18 will suffer from a debilitating mental disorder, while only about half of these children will receive treatment.

Children with anxiety disorders report receiving treatment less often than those with other disorders, and mood disorders were also significantly lower than average.  

Early intervention may reduce the impact and overall disruption in a person’s life and has the potential to prevent the onset of psychosis all together.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 4, 2012
Last Updated:
October 4, 2012