, Volume 17, Issue 10, pp 1825-1834
Date: 05 Dec 2012

Risk Factors for Mental Health Problems in School-Age Children from a Community Sample

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The epidemiological dimension of mental health problems in childhood and its impact warrant new studies. Knowledge about the predictors of mental health in children is scant in developing countries. The present study estimated the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in Brazilian school-age children based on a community sample from primary health care services, with the aim of verifying the predictive value of biological, social, and familial risk factors in children’s mental health. The study was performed with 120 children of both genders identified through their mothers. The children’s mental health was evaluated by sociodemographic factors and a diagnostic interview conducted with parents. Biological, social, and familial risk factors were evaluated by the Supplemental Questionnaire and Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition. Of the 120 children, 45.8 % were diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder. Children with diagnoses of depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder presented evidence of greater exposure to risk factors compared with children without these psychiatric diagnoses. Children with more risk factors throughout their lifetime had greater comorbidities compared with children with a lower number of risk factors. The identification of groups exposed to interconnected risk factors represents a priority when planning mental health practices. The strong role of chronic familial risk factors needs to be emphasized because they are a possible target for the prevention of depressive and anxiety disorders.