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Somatic comorbidity in children and adolescents with psychiatric disorders

Journal article
Authors S. Agnafors
A. Norman Kjellström
J. Torgerson
Marie Rusner
Published in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume 28
Issue 11
Pages 1517-1525
ISSN 1018-8827
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Health and Care Sciences
Pages 1517-1525
Language en
Keywords Children, Comorbidity, Mental health, Somatic health
Subject categories Psychiatry


In the adult population, psychiatric disorders are associated with somatic illness. Explanatory life style factors have been found, but also a failure to recognize somatic illness in this group. Another factor is side effects from long-term use of antipsychotic drugs. Given the psychiatric-somatic comorbidity in the adult population, it is of interest to investigate whether an association exists already during childhood. The aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency of somatic illness in children and adolescents with a psychiatric diagnose. Data were obtained from the regional health care database Vega, Sweden. Psychiatric and somatic diagnoses obtained during 2011–2013 for individuals aged 3–18 years were extracted. Descriptive statistics were used to examine difference in somatic morbidity between children with and without psychiatric diagnoses. Logistic regression was used in age-stratified models to test the association between psychiatric and somatic diagnoses. Anxiety and behavioral disorders were associated with all somatic conditions investigated at nearly all ages. The same applied to substance use, investigated at age 9–18 years. Affective disorders were associated with all somatic conditions at age 12–18 years. Psychotic conditions were associated with asthma, bowel disorders and myalgia in adolescents. Children with psychiatric disorders are at remarkably high risk for concurrent somatic illness. The associations span across many types of conditions and across all ages. The results support the need for awareness of somatic morbidity in child and adolescent psychiatric clinical settings, and the need for coordinated health care for children with comorbid states. © 2019, The Author(s).

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