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Long-term outcomes of functional neurological disorder in children


Objectives To establish the incidence and long-term outcomes (up to 21 years) of children presenting to a University hospital paediatric neurology service with symptoms due to functional neurological disorder (FND) with particular reference to occurrence of FND or similar symptoms in adulthood.

Methods Retrospective chart review to determine characteristics of the original paediatric FND presentation plus record-linkage with providers of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Chart review of adult medical records for documentation of functional symptoms in adulthood.

Results 124 individuals (56% female) met entry criteria. The most common presentations were seizures (18%), sensory loss (18%) and motor symptoms (16%). Frequency gradually increased with age of onset with an incidence in paediatric neurological services of 6 per 100 000 children under 16. In up to 21 years’ follow-up (median 8.3 years), 114/124 attained their 16th birthdays by the study census date and were thus eligible for inclusion in an analysis of symptom persistence/recurrence in adulthood. 26/114 (23%) showed evidence of FND in adulthood of sufficient significance to be recorded in medical records.

Conclusion Paediatric FND is commoner than previous estimates. Even in this selected population of children reaching specialist paediatric neurology services, a high long-term remission rate is observed.

  • neurology
  • adolescent health
  • child psychology
  • child psychiatry

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