Psychiatric Symptoms in Children and Adolescents With Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and their Parents

Authors

  • Sally Tarbell PhD,

  • B U.K. Li PhD


  • From the Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA.

  • Conflict of Interest: None

S. Tarbell, Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.

Abstract

Objective.— To conduct a pilot study to evaluate the prevalence of psychiatric symptoms in children and adolescents with cyclic vomiting syndrome and to assess family history of psychiatric disorder.

Background.— Little is known about psychiatric comorbidity in youth with cyclic vomiting syndrome, a periodic syndrome.

Methods.— Eighty-five parents, of children aged 3-18 years with cyclic vomiting syndrome confirmed in a multidisciplinary clinic, completed the age-appropriate Children's Symptom Inventory, a questionnaire that screens for psychiatric symptoms in pediatric patients. Twenty-one adolescents aged 13-18 years completed the Youth's Report, a self-report form of this questionnaire. Sixty-two parents completed a family psychiatric history checklist.

Results.— These children and their parents evidenced a high prevalence of anxiety and mood symptoms compared to norms of the Children's Symptom Inventory and population norms for internalizing psychiatric disorders. On the age-appropriate Children's Symptom Inventory, 47% of subjects (40/85) met diagnostic cut-off for an anxiety disorder, and 14% (12/85) for an affective disorder. Discrepancies were found in parent and adolescent reports for symptoms of panic disorder (chi-square = 4.83, df = 1, P = .028), posttraumatic stress disorder (chi-square = 6.87, df = 1, P = .009), and somatization disorder (chi-square = 6.41, df = 1, P = .01), with parents reporting significantly more symptoms than the adolescents. Internalizing disorders were also prevalent in the parents with 59% (36/62) endorsing either an anxiety and/or an affective disorder. Mothers reported a significantly higher prevalence of anxiety disorders (35%) than did fathers (13%) (chi-square = 8.43, df = 1, P < .004).

Conclusion.— Children and adolescents with cyclic vomiting syndrome appear to be at increased risk for internalizing psychiatric disorders, especially anxiety disorders. Further research using standardized psychiatric interviews and a control group are indicated to further assess psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents with cyclic vomiting syndrome.

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