Can psychiatric childhood disorders be due to inborn errors of metabolism?

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2017 Feb;26(2):143-154. doi: 10.1007/s00787-016-0908-4. Epub 2016 Sep 30.


Many patients who visit a centre for hereditary metabolic diseases remarkably also suffer from a child psychiatric disorder. Those child psychiatric disorders may be the first sign or manifestation of an underlying metabolic disorder. Lack of knowledge of metabolic disorders in child psychiatry may lead to diagnoses being missed. Patients therefore are also at risk for not accessing efficacious treatment and proper counselling. To search the literature for the co-occurrence of child psychiatric disorders, such as ADHD, autism, psychosis, learning disorders and eating disorders and metabolic disorders. A search of the literature was conducted by performing a broad search on PubMed, using the terms "ADHD and metabolic disorders", "autism and metabolic disorders", "psychosis and metabolic disorders", "learning disorders and metabolic disorders", and "eating disorders and metabolic disorders". Based on inclusion criteria (concerning a clear psychiatric disorder and concerning a metabolic disorder) 4441 titles and 249 abstracts were screened and resulted in 71 relevant articles. This thorough literature search provides child and adolescent psychiatrists with an overview of metabolic disorders associated with child psychiatric symptoms, their main characteristics and recommendations for further investigations.

Keywords: ADHD; ASD; Child psychiatric disorder; Eating disorder; Learning disorder; Metabolic disorders; Psychosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / etiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Learning Disabilities / etiology
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / complications
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / epidemiology
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / etiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology