Clinical Spectrum of Anorexia Nervosa in Children

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ABSTRACT.A retrospective review of 21 patients ages 12 years and younger (age of onset range 7 to 12 years) with anorexia nervosa showed diagnostic delay in the youngest ones, high incidence of family psychiatric history, a remarkable severity of illness, and positive response to intensive treatment. Additional findings included significant comorbidity, a distinct subgroup with personality disorder and another with features of the “vulnerable child syndrome.” This broad clinical spectrum of anorexia nervosa in children may explain the great variability in outcome. The development of anorexia nervosa in children relates to a complex combination of etiological and trigger factors. Precipitants identified in this study were physical maturation, entry into junior high, loss, or some combination thereof. J Dev Behav Pediatr 14:211–216, 1993. Index terms: childhood anorexia nervosa, comorbidity of anorexia nervosa, vulnerable child syndrome.

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