November 21, 1990

Psychiatrists Increasingly Able to Assess, Treat Mental Health Problems of the Very Young

JAMA. 1990;264(19):2491-2492. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450190021007

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SOME PSYCHIATRISTS are trading their couches for cribs, as it is being increasingly recognized that infants as young as a few months of age can have psychiatric disturbances.

The variability in psychiatric problems in infancy is great. Causes range from organic to psychosocial to environmental. Some are common; others, extremely rare. Some have been well studied; others have just begun to be described.

By the age of 3 years, 10% to 15% of children will have some type of behavior problem, according to Klaus K. Minde, MD, chair of the Division of Child Psychiatry at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec. This is similar to the incidence of behavioral disorders in the general population. Some problems, such as temper tantrums, are not predictive of later adjustment disorders, but others, such as night waking, are.

Advances in the assessment and treatment of disorders of infancy were discussed at a recent American Academy of