Mental Health Issues More Common With Developmental Coordination Disorder

March 28, 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 27 - Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) face a higher risk of mental health difficulties, according to a report online Monday in Pediatrics.

Earlier cross-sectional studies showed an increased risk of mental health difficulties in these children, but there has been limited longitudinal research in this area.

Dr. Raghu Lingam from University of Bristol, Bristol, UK and colleagues assessed the associations between probable DCD at age seven and parent and child-reported mental health difficulties at ages nine and 10, using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Of the 6,902 children in the study, 346 (5%) met the criteria for probable DCD, including poor motor coordination that limits activities of daily living or academic achievement but isn't due to a general medical condition or severe learning problems.

At age 10, 235 of the children with probable DCD completed the Short Mood & Feelings Questionnaire, and 28 (11.9%) reported symptoms of depression, the primary endpoint of the study, compared with 279 of 5240 controls (5.3%).

The researchers had data on parent-reported mental health and behavioral difficulties at age nine for 245 children in the DCD group. Nearly a quarter (71, 23.0%) had such difficulties, compared with only 8.1% (423/5254) of controls.

The group of children with probable DCD had more hyperactivity and inattention, emotional problems, and peer relationship difficulties, as well as fewer prosocial skills, compared with controls.

For each of these outcomes, the risks were increased with decreased verbal IQ, poor social communication, being an overt victim, and lower global self-esteem and scholastic competence.

"Children with DCD need to be screened for mental health difficulties," the authors conclude. "Interventions focusing on increasing self-esteem, tackling bullying, and enhancing social interaction may alleviate some of the risk of depression and behavior difficulties in children with DCD."


Pediatrics 2012;129:e882-e891.


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