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Childhood Eye Condition Linked to Psychiatric Disorders

Intermittent exotropia in childhood may nearly triple risk for mental health problems in adulthood

WEDNESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- Children with the eye condition intermittent exotropia (IXT) have a nearly three-fold increase in risk for a mental health disorder in adulthood, according to a study in the June issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Jeff A. McKenzie, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues assembled data on a cohort in Minnesota, who were under 19 years of age and were diagnosed with IXT from 1975 to 1994 and a control group matched for sex and year of birth. The subjects' medical records were reviewed to test a theorized connection between childhood IXT and mental health disorders later in life.

The researchers found that, of the 183 subjects with childhood IXT, 97 were diagnosed with a mental health disorder in adulthood compared to 55 of the 183 control subjects. By sex, 41 of 65 males and 56 of 118 females in the IXT group had a mental health diagnosis compared with 22 of 66 males and 33 of 117 females in the control group.

"This population-based, nested-control study found that children with IXT have a nearly three-fold increased risk of developing mental illness by early adulthood compared with controls. Although IXT has been reported to occur more frequently in females, males with IXT were significantly more likely than controls or females with IXT to have mental health emergency department visits or hospitalizations, suicidal or homicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Further study is needed to determine whether interventions for IXT can decrease or otherwise alter the future development of mental illness," the authors write.

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