Psychiatric Emergencies in Minors: The Impact of Sex and Age

Pety So*, André I. Wierdsma, Robert R.J.M. Vermeiren, Cornelis L. Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective Little information is available on young children (age 4-12 years) with mental health problems who are seen by the psychiatric emergency services. We therefore described this population to identify (1) variables that differentiated children from those aged 13 to 18 years who had been referred for psychiatric emergency consultation; and (2) to describe sex differences. Method We extracted data for a 9-year period from the records of the mobile psychiatric emergency services in 2 urban areas in the Netherlands. In this period, 79 children aged 4 to 12 years (37.2% girls) and 1695 children aged 12 to 18 years (62.2% girls) had been referred for psychiatric emergency consultation. Demographic and process factors were recorded. Clinical characteristics included diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edition classifications and the Severity of Psychiatric Illness scale. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine differences between the girls and boys in the 2 age groups. Results Young children aged 4 to 12 years had been involved in 4.5% of all consultations of minors. In contrast with adolescents, a higher percentage of young children seen for emergency consultation were boys, and a lower percentage was admitted to a psychiatric hospital (7.7%). In boys and girls alike, a DSM classification of behavioral disorder was associated with younger age. Conclusions The young group of children referred for psychiatric emergency consultation comprised relatively more children with behavioral disorders. Decisions to refer them for urgent psychiatric consultation seemed to be influenced by the suspicion of psychotic symptoms or of danger to themselves or others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-263
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Emergency Care
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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