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Phenomenology of Early Childhood Onset Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Abstract

This paper describes the phenomenological features of early childhood onset obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD; defined as children meeting DSM-IV criteria for OCD with age of onset <8 years). Fifty-eight children (ages 4–8) were included in the sample. OCD and comorbid diagnoses were determined by structured interview, and OCD severity was measured using the Children’s Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS). Mean age of OCD onset was almost five, and mean age of presentation was between 6 and 7. Mean symptom severity was in the moderately severe range. Comorbidity and family history of OCD were common. Contamination and aggressive/catastrophic obsessions and washing and checking compulsions were endorsed most frequently. Results indicate that early childhood onset OCD may have a lower boy to girl ratio and lower rates of depressive disorders, but may be similar to later childhood onset OCD in terms of OCD symptom presentation and severity.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R21 MH079217). This paper is dedicated to the memory of Henrietta Leonard, M.D.

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Correspondence to Abbe M. Garcia.

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Garcia, A.M., Freeman, J.B., Himle, M.B. et al. Phenomenology of Early Childhood Onset Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 31, 104–111 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-008-9094-0

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Keywords

  • Child
  • OCD
  • Phenomenology