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Catatonia in a 10-year-old boy with early childhood neglect and disruptive behaviours in psychiatric residential treatment


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

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