A significant proportion of children with anorectal malformations have long term problems with faecal continence. The psychological consequences of this chronic disability was assessed in 160 children and adolescents. The prevalence of clinically significant emotional problems among the sample overall, as assessed by a diagnostic psychiatric interview (19%), parental assessment (27%), and child self report depressive scale (24%) was higher than expected relative to normative populations. With the exception of the young girls (6-11 years), the incontinent children and adolescents were not judged to be less well adjusted than those with good bowel control. Treatment for anorectal malformations appears to be associated with an increased risk for behavioural and social problems, but this was not related to the level of continence. Parental factors and gender were significantly associated with outcome. These children and families would benefit from psychological evaluation and support especially during early childhood.
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