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Psychiatric Disorders May Persist in Some Juveniles After Detention: Study

Update Date: Oct 02, 2012 08:52 AM EDT

A new study conducted with juvenile detainees in Chicago as subjects suggests that after five years of imprisonment, more than 45 percent of males and about 30 percent of females had one or more psychiatric disorders with associated impairment.

According to the study background, it is a known fact that psychiatric disorders are prevalent among imprisoned juveniles and the disorders persist as they grow up to be adults. Psychiatric disorders are apparently common among children who commit crime at a young age. This could be because of maltreatment, dysfunctional families, family substance abuse and brain injuries, Medical Xpress reported.

Linda A. Teplin, Ph.D., of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and colleagues present data from the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a longitudinal study of 1,829 youth (1,172 males and 657 females, ages 10 to 18 years at baseline) who were detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago.

For the current study, the researchers examined the changes in prevalence and persistence of disorders in the first years after detention. The researchers considered factors like sex, race and ethnic differences.

"Although prevalence rates of most psychiatric disorders declined over time, a substantial proportion of delinquent youth continued to have disorders as they aged. For some youth, detention may coincide with a period of crisis that subsequently abates. Many youth, however, continue to struggle: five years after detention, when participants were ages 14 to 24 years, nearly half of males and nearly 30 percent of females had one or more psychiatric disorders with associated impairment," the authors comment.

The findings revealed that substance use disorders were the most common and males, at baseline, had about one-third more chances of having any substance use disorder.

After five years, the chances of males having the disorder were 2.5 times more than females.

In terms of race, it was found that non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics had higher rates of substance use disorders compared to African-Americans.

Other revelations were that females had higher rates of developing chronic depression over time.

In case of disruptive behavior disorders, at baseline, though there was not much difference between males and females in terms of its rate of existence, there was a faster decrease in prevalence among females when compared to males.

"Substance use and disruptive behavior disorders continued to be the most common disorders. For many delinquent youth - especially males - externalizing disorders were not limited to adolescence," the authors commented.

The study was published in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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