Most studies on the diagnostic patterns of usage of specialized services for childhood psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders have been cross-sectional, and the aim of this study was to provide longitudinal data.
The Medical Birth Register and the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register were used to study the use of inpatient or public outpatient specialized services for psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders between birth and age 14 in 2010 (cumulative incidence) and in year 2010 at age 14 (one-year prevalence) among Finnish children born in 1996 (N=58,538 singleton live births).
The cumulative incidence of specialized service use for any psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders between birth and age 14 was 12.9%, and the one-year prevalence in 2010 at 14 years was 4.2%. The cumulative incidence by age 14 was 5.5% for learning and coordination disorders, 2.2% for anxiety disorders, 2.0% for hyperkinetic disorders, 1.7% for conduct disorders, 1.4% for depression, 1.0% for autism spectrum disorders, and .7% for stress and adjustment disorders. Learning and coordination, hyperkinetic, and autism spectrum disorders were more prevalent among boys, were often diagnosed before school age, and had 9%−51% lifetime comorbidity with each other. Depressive, anxiety, and stress and adjustment disorders had similar distributions between the sexes, were often diagnosed in early adolescence, and showed 8%−31% lifetime comorbidity with each other.
Every eighth Finnish child had visited specialized services for psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders sometime between birth and age 14. Learning and coordination disorders were diagnosed more than twice as often as anxiety, hyperkinetic, and conduct disorders.