Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Catatonia in a 10-year-old boy with early childhood neglect and disruptive behaviours in psychiatric residential treatment
  1. Marisa A Giggie
  1. Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Marisa A Giggie; magiggie{at}


Catatonia is a rare medical condition that can be fatal in paediatric patients if left untreated. It is often misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed. There are no published cases of catatonia in traumatised children living in long-term psychiatric care. However, there is some evidence that childhood maltreatment in its variant forms may be a risk for the development of catatonia in children and adolescents. In this case, a 10-year-old boy with intrauterine exposure to alcohol and multiple drugs and early childhood deprivation, developed neuroleptic-induced catatonia in an intensive psychiatric residential treatment centre approximately 24 hours after receiving a first-time intramuscular injection of haloperidol 5 mg for acute agitation. He had no known predisposing factors for catatonia such as psychosis, autism, neurological or general medical problems. This 10-year-old child’s early childhood trauma should be considered as a predisposing factor for catatonia.

  • child and adolescent psychiatry (paediatrics)
  • child abuse
  • drugs: psychiatry

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors MG is sole contributor. She is the only person who has worked on this case. As the primary psychiatrist and an academic psychiatrist at an intensive residential psychiatric treatment programme for children and adolescents, she recognised this case of catatonia as something extraordinary and unusual. So she decided to write it up because it was the first time she had ever seen catatonia in a child in 25 years as a child psychiatrist and she had no predisposing risk factors (autism, seizure disorder, schizophrenia). She did all the work with no help from anyone else. It is all mine. No students. The only help she received was from our librarian who helped in the literature search for similar cases. She did the conception, planning, writing and analysis.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.