Increased risk of anorexia nervosa in children with poor improvement of emotional regulation skills: JAMA
Troubles in developing age-relevant emotion regulation skills in children is strongly linked to developing broad anorexia nervosa in adolescence, suggests a recent study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal.
Anorexia nervosa often referred to as anorexia is a common eating disorder characterized by a very low body weight, an extreme fear of gaining weight, and a disturbed perception of weight. Additionally, people with anorexia nervosa also find it difficult to balance their emotions. Currently, there is limited data to prove if this emotional turmoil is already present in their childhood or develops later.
A study was conducted by Henderson M et. al to study the linkage between emotion regulation skills in children between 3 to 7 years of age and subsequent symptoms of anorexia nervosa and atypical anorexia nervosa in adolescence.
The researchers selected a total of 15,896 participants that included all children with complete exposure data in the Millennium Cohort Study (a UK general population birth cohort). The data was collected from June 2001 to March 2016 and it was studied thoroughly from June 2020 to November 2020.
The children's mothers mentioned their children's emotional quotient at 3, 5, and 7 years of age using the Children's Social Behaviour Questionnaire. Further, multilevel models were used to get early childhood emotion regulation scores.
The findings of the study are as follows:
· Out of the complete cohort, 62.4 % (n= 97) participants showed symptoms in line with a diagnosis of broad anorexia nervosa at 14 years of age.
· There was no evidence to prove that children with lower emotion regulation skills at 3 years of age had greater risks of reporting symptoms of broad anorexia nervosa in their adolescence (odds ratio [OR], 1.21; 95% CI, 0.91-1.63).
· However, children whose emotion regulation skills remained poor over their childhood period and who had more difficulties balancing their emotions at 7 years of age had increased the risk of having broad anorexia nervosa at 14 years of age (OR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.16-1.83).
The researchers concluded that problems in developing age-appropriate emotion regulation abilities in childhood are linked with developing broad anorexia nervosa in their adolescence. Hence, interventions to bolster the development of emotion regulation skills throughout their childhood may help arrest the incidence of anorexia nervosa.
Association of Emotion Regulation Trajectories in Childhood with Anorexia Nervosa and Atypical Anorexia Nervosa in Early Adolescence by Henderson M et. al published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal.