Retrospective chart review of catatonia in child and adolescent psychiatric patients

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2012 Jan;125(1):33-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2011.01778.x. Epub 2011 Nov 1.


Objective: Identify the frequency of catatonia among at-risk children and adolescents receiving psychiatric treatment.

Method: Subjects were children and adolescents (<18 years), who had received psychiatric treatment at a University Hospital during 2004-2009, and were diagnosed with disorders with known risk for catatonia or displayed symptoms suggestive of catatonia. Approval was obtained from the Investigational Review Board (IRB). The first 101 (n = 101) subjects were selected among 570 subjects identified by psychiatric diagnoses: any pervasive developmental disorder, psychosis-NOS (Not Otherwise Specified), intermittent explosive disorder, mental retardation, catatonia and neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Subjects met study-defined criteria for catatonia, if they had three or more of the following symptoms: unexplained agitation/excitement, disturbed or unusual movements, reduced movements, repetitive or stereotyped movements, or reduced or loss of speech.

Results: Eighteen (17.8%) subjects, among a group suspected to be at a higher risk for catatonia, met the study-defined criteria for this syndrome. However, only two subjects had been diagnosed by their treatment providers. Higher rates of intellectual disability and aggression were found among the group that met study-criteria.

Conclusion: We concluded that catatonia is under recognized and undertreated among children and adolescents receiving psychiatric treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aggression / psychology
  • Catatonia* / diagnosis
  • Catatonia* / etiology
  • Catatonia* / physiopathology
  • Catatonia* / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / complications
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypokinesia / psychology*
  • Intellectual Disability / complications
  • Intellectual Disability / etiology*
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Male
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome / complications
  • Psychomotor Agitation / psychology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Speech Disorders / complications
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / complications