Current Content
Volume 35, Number 1
January/February 2009

Factors Influencing the Onset of Childhood Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Tina M. D’Alessandro

Childhood obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) was once considered a rare childhood condition, although recent epidemiological data rank OCD as the fourth most common psychiatric disorder, making it twice as common as panic disorder or schizophrenia (Barrett & Healy, 2003). The available literature indicates that OCD affects children and adolescents at a prevalence rate of up to 4%. Early onset of OCD is associated with a significant increase in the rate of persistence of this disorder (Geller, 2006). Among adults with OCD symptoms, one-third to one-half develop symptoms before or during adolescence (March, Franklin, Nelson, & Foa, 2001). OCD, like most psychiatric disorders, is believed to be influenced by biological, psychological, and social interactions with regard to the onset and course of illness (Cromer, Schmidt, & Murphy, 2007). Exploring factors influencing the onset of symptoms is essential to early treatment and the reduction of suffering in children and adolescents (Douglass, Moffitt, Dar, McGee, & Silva, 1995). Early identification and treatment in childhood may also reduce adult morbidity related to this disorder (March et al., 2001). An overview of the predominant theories in biomedical, behavioral, and psycho-social models are presented, supporting an interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of OCD in children.