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Obsessive symptoms in childhood can multiply the probabilities of an obsessive compulsive disorder
Date:3/4/2009

A research group led Miguel ngel Fullana, researcher at the Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona Department of Psychiatry and Legal Medicine, psychologist the Institute of Psychiatric Treatment of Hospital de Mar in Barcelona and researcher at King's College Institute of Psychiatry, London, has carried out a first study which connects the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive rituals in childhood with the risk of developing an obsessive-compulsive disorder as adults. One of the main conclusions of the study is that children who repeatedly manifest having obsessions and compulsions notably increase their risk of suffering from a disorder later in life.

The research used data from the Dunedin Study which has been carried out with citizens of Dunedin, New Zealand since 1973. It is the only place in the world where a long-term follow-up of different psychological variables has taken place from childhood to adulthood with a sample of one thousand people. Researchers assessed the evolution of two variables in participants at ages 11, 26 and 32: the repeated presence of obsessive ideas (e.g. recurrent and undesired thoughts to harm others) and compulsive rituals (a need to wash their hands constantly, to check up on small everyday tasks to prevent harm or repeatedly carrying out activities that seem meaningless, etc.).

Based on the analysis of these data, researchers for the first time have obtained objective proof that there is a correlation between obsessions and compulsions in childhood (when study members were age 11) and the probability of suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder as an adult (observed at ages 26 and 32 among participants). More specifically, the girls and boys in the study who showed symptoms of obsessive or compulsive behaviour at 11 - a total of 8% of the population studied - were six time as likely than others to suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder in adulthood.

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Contact: Miguel Angel Fullana
miguel.fullana@iop.kcl.ac.uk
34-932-483-463
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Source:Eurekalert

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