What is early onset anorexia?

The term “early onset of anorexia nervosa” was used for patients between 8 and 14 years of age, sometimes premenstrual patients were included in the early onset of the disorder. As in adulthood, there are more girls than boys who suffer from anorexia nervosa. Six recent studies on the outcome of early-onset anorexia nervosa (AN) are reviewed. It would seem that the medium-term outcome of early-onset NA is no different from that of late-onset AN.

No prognostic indicators were identified and the effect of treatment is unknown. Early-onset AN can be a disabling and chronic disorder for 25% of patients attending psychiatric clinics. Early onset AN is sometimes referred to as “premenarchic onset”, especially in British literature, but this is not a useful term, since menarche (first period) will be delayed in AN and would lead to 16 year old girls being included in this category and leave boys out altogether. The aim of this study is to evaluate the clinical characteristics of 30 children with early-onset anorexia nervosa (EO-AN; %3D age 12.2 ± 1.6 years) compared to 30 patients with AN at adolescence onset (AO-AN; %3D age 15.9 ± 0.7 years) and 60 healthy controls of the same age.

In my professional experience, early-onset severe anorexia nervosa that does not respond quickly to outpatient treatment requires inpatient or inpatient care in a specialized pediatric eating disorder service.

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