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Mortality Decreasing in Adolescents with Anorexia

Swedish researchers attribute improved survival to improved medical care, specialized units

MONDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Among Swedish adolescents who are hospitalized for anorexia nervosa, mortality has significantly decreased since the late 1970s, according to a brief report published in the August issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Frank Lindblad, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues studied outcomes in 564 young women who were hospitalized between 1977 and 1981, and 554 young women who were hospitalized between 1987 and 1991. The investigators followed the first group until 1992 and the second group until 2002.

The researchers found that 25 (4.4 percent) deaths occurred in the first group compared to seven (1.3 percent) deaths in the second group. They calculated a hazard ratio of death of 3.7 for the first group compared to the second group.

"We believe that improved medical care, including treatment of nutritional emergency states, is primarily reflected in the decreased risk of death during the first months of hospital care and that improved long-term care is reflected in the decreased risk five to 11 years after first hospitalization," the authors write. "The establishing of specialized units during the second period -- rather than new knowledge about treatment strategies -- probably constitutes the core of such presumed improvement. The more successful prevention of suicide during the second period seems to be one factor of importance."

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