Eating disorders in children and adolescents: what does the gynecologist need to know?

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Purpose of review

The purpose of this review is to discuss the diagnosis, medical complications, and treatment of eating disorders as defined by the newly released Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition.

Recent findings

With the introduction of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th edition, the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa have been revised to better capture the varied presentations of patients with eating disorders. In addition, new eating disorder diagnoses including binge-eating disorder, characterized by recurrent bingeing without associated compensatory behaviors, and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, characterized by a restrictive eating pattern without associated body dysmorphism, allow for increased recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of disordered eating patterns. In addition to a high mortality rate, eating disorders are associated with serious medical sequelae secondary to malnutrition and disordered behaviors, including disturbances of the cardiovascular, neurologic, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and skeletal systems. Early diagnosis and family-based treatment are associated with improved outcomes in children and adolescents.


Eating disorders are illnesses with biological, psychological, and social implications that commonly present in childhood and adolescence. Gynecologists are on the front line for the screening and diagnosis of eating disorders in adolescent women.

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