Auditory hallucinations in pre-pubertal children
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The aims of this study were to describe the phenomenology of auditory hallucinations in children, to establish links with DSM IV diagnoses and to explore development of the hallucinations over a 12-month period.
Outpatients aged 5- to 12-year-old were consecutively recruited. They were interviewed using a questionnaire investigating auditory hallucinations. DSM IV diagnoses were determined. Follow-up assessments were performed at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.
Ninety children were recruited. Sixteen reported auditory hallucinations. In 53% we observed children’s full recovery from hallucinations within 3 months and all of these suffered from anxiety disorders. In 30% hallucinations persisted over 12 months and all showed conduct disorders at this point in time. None was diagnosed as having schizophrenia.
Our study provides further evidence of the high prevalence of auditory hallucinations in pre-pubertal children presenting to psychiatric clinics. Two different patterns of development were seen. In one group the hallucinations seem unrelated to psychosis although they may be a manifestation of anxiety. In the second, much smaller, persistence of hallucinations appeared linked to conduct disorders.
Keywordsauditory hallucinations pre-pubertal children anxiety schizophrenia
The authors would like to thank Professor Philip Graham for assistance in preparing this manuscript.
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