BALTIMORE — Data presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting indicated significant associations between bullying and depression and anxiety in children with developmental disorders.
“Studies of the general pediatric population have shown that victims of bullying are at an elevated risk of experiencing psychiatric problems related to depression and anxiety. However, few studies have examined this association among children with developmental disabilities,” Bridget Kiely, a research assistant at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, and colleagues wrote.
To assess associations between bullying and depression and anxiety in children with developmental disabilities, researchers analyzed data from the CDC’s survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services, a nationally representative survey of parents of children who were ever diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The cohort included 4,032 children aged 6 to 17 years. Children were considered victims if parents reported that their child was picked on or bullied by other children.
Among children with ASD, bullying occurred more often in those who exhibited symptoms of depression, compared with those without depression symptoms (74.5% vs. 55%; P < .001).
Similarly, bullying rates were higher among children with ASD and anxiety symptoms (68.6% vs. 53.2%; P = .008) and those diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (73.8% vs. 57.2%; P = .004), compared with those without anxiety symptoms or disorders.
Among children with intellectual disability or developmental delay only, bullying rates were higher among those with depression symptoms (71.9% vs. 41.1%; P < .001), diagnosed depression (72% vs. 51.2%; P = .003), anxiety symptoms (67.4% vs. 34.2%; P < .001) and diagnosed anxiety disorders (68.2% vs. 49.1%; P < .001).
“[Bullying victimization] is strongly associated with depression and anxiety in children with developmental disabilities. Further studies are needed to determine whether comorbid psychopathology is a cause or a consequence of victimization among children with developmental disabilities,” the researchers concluded. – by Amanda Oldt
Kiely B, et al. Psychiatric correlates of bullying victimization in children with developmental disabilities. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting; April 30-May 3, 2016; Baltimore.
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