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Open Access Research article

Prevalence of childhood and early adolescence mental disorders among children attending primary health care centers in Mosul, Iraq: a cross-sectional study

Asma A Al-Jawadi1* and Shatha Abdul-Rhman2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Mosul, Mosul, Iraq

2 College of Nursing, University of Mosul, Mosul, Iraq

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:274  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-274

Published: 2 October 2007

Abstract

Background

Children and adolescents are more vulnerable to the affects of war and violence than adults. At the time of initiation of this study, nothing was known about the prevalence of childhood and early adolescence mental disorders. The aim of the present study is to measure the point prevalence of mental disorders among children of 1–15 years age in the city of Mosul, Iraq.

Methods

A cross-sectional study design was adopted. Four primary health care centers were chosen consecutively as a study setting. The subjects of the present study were mothers who came to the primary health care center for vaccination of their children. The chosen mothers were included by systematic sampling randomization. All children (aged 1–15) that each mother had were considered in the interview and examination.

Results

Out of 3079 children assessed, 1152 have childhood mental disorders, giving a point prevalence of 37.4%, with a male to female ratio of to 1.22:1. The top 10 disorders among the examined children are post-traumatic stress disorder (10.5%), enuresis (6%), separation anxiety disorder (4.3%), specific phobia (3.3%) stuttering and refusal to attend school (3.2% each), learning and conduct disorders (2.5% each), stereotypic movement (2.3%) and feeding disorder in infancy or early childhood (2.0%). Overall, the highest prevalence of mental disorders was among children 10–15 years old (49.2%) while the lowest was among 1–5 year olds (29.1%). Boys are more affected than girls (40.2% and 33.2%, respectively).

Conclusion

Childhood mental disorders are a common condition highly prevalent amongst the children and early adolescents in Mosul. Data from the present study mirrors the size of the problem in local community. Several points deserve attention, the most important of which include giving care at the community level, educating the public on mental health, involving communities and families, monitoring community mental health indicators, and providing treatment at primary health care level.