INFANCY AND EARLY CHILDHOOD PSYCHIATRY – CHARACTERIZATION OF THE OUTPATIENT CLINIC IN A CENTRAL HOSPITAL
Keywords:infancy and early childhood, psychopathology, diagnosis
Introduction: The Infancy and Early Childhood Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic at the Oporto Hospital Centre’s Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry opened in 2007. Our aim is to characterize the first consultations between June 2012 and June 2013.
Methods: Review of clinical files and collection of demographic and medical data; diagnostic evaluation according to the Diagnostic Classification of Mental Health and Development Disorders of Infancy and Early Childhood: Revised Edition; statistical analysis using SPSS v.19.0.
Results and Discussion: Two hundred and twenty-two children were evaluated and 63.1% were male. The main reasons for referral to consultation were children with no specific symptoms included in institutional protocols (43.7%) and language disorders (12.6%). Forty-nine (22.1%) had psychopathology, namely: Regulation Disorder of Sensory Processing (38.8%), Disorder of Affect (24.5%) and Disorder of Relating and Communicating (22.4%). In 57 cases (33.0%) there were alterations solely at the relational level, mostly underinvolved (16.2%). Eighty-eight (39.6%) showed Global Developmental Delay, and the scale of hearing / language was the most affected (54.1%). Compared to the previous study, the average age of referral was lower, which may be indicative of greater professional and community awareness. We observed fewer children with Axis I diagnosis but an equivalent number of those with relational difficulties.
Conclusion: Most children referred were under the age of three and presented clinical indicators of mental suffering. In the last years, mental health in early childhood has been an area of growing investment, namely in the early identification of risk groups and signs of mental suffering, allowing mental carers to intervene preemptively.
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