Little is known about conversion disorder in childhood.
To document clinical incidence, features, management and 12-month outcome of non-transient conversion disorder in under 16-year-olds in the UK and Ireland.
Surveillance through the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Surveillance System.
In total, 204 cases (age range 7-15 years) were reported, giving a 12-month incidence of 1.30/100 000 (95% CI 1.11-1.52). The most common symptoms were motor weakness and abnormal movements. Presentation with multiple symptoms was the norm. Antecedent stressors were reported for 80.8%, most commonly bullying in school. Most children required in-patient admission with frequent medical investigations. Follow-up at 12 months was available for 147 children, when all conversion disorder symptoms were reported as improved. Most families (91%) accepted a nonmedical explanation of the symptoms either fully or partially.
Childhood conversion disorder represents an infrequent but significant clinical burden in the UK and Ireland.
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