Poor fine-motor and visuospatial skills predict persistence of pediatric-onset obsessive-compulsive disorder into adulthood

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Background:Half of pediatric-onset OCD cases remit by adulthood. Studies have demonstrated that initial response to pharmacotherapy, age of onset, prominent hoarding symptoms, and the presence of comorbid tic disorders are associated with long-term outcome. Our goal was to examine the association between childhood performance on neuropsychological testing and persistence of OCD into adulthood.Methods:Twenty-four children with OCD were followed for an average of 7.5 years into early adulthood. Neuropsychological performance in childhood (<16 years) was measured. The battery included the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III), the Purdue pegboard test, the Rey-Osterreith Complex Figure Task (RCFT) and the Beery-Buktenica test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI). We hypothesized that deficits in fine-motor skills, visuospatial skills, and nonverbal memory as well as overall intelligence would be associated with adulthood outcome. We used a Cox proportional hazard model of survival analysis in which time to remission of OCD symptoms was the main outcome variable.Results:Poor childhood performance on the Purdue pegboard task and the block design subscale of WISC-III was associated with persistence of OCD symptoms into adulthood. IQ, VMI, and nonverbal memory performance did not predict significantly the persistence of OCD.Conclusions:These results suggest that visuospatial and fine-motor skill deficits are predictive of poor long-term outcome in pediatric-onset OCD. Future longitudinal studies are needed to chart the course of these deficits relative to the course of symptoms in OCD and to determine whether the association of these neuropsychiatric deficits with long-term outcome is specific to pediatric-onset OCD or generalizes to other psychiatric disorders.

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