chapter  19
15 Pages

Prevention of Medical Complications in Children and Adolescents with Eating Disorders

The difficulty in identifying an eating disorder in a child or younger adolescent is caused by several factors. First, some of the clinical characteristics found in children and adolescents differ from those commonly seen in older adolescents and adults. Second, the definition of eating disorders as they apply to prepubertal and pubertal adolescents in the current classification schemes may be incomplete. Debate continues about the clinical features necessary for the diagnosis of an eating disorder in this population. Finally, community-based studies and case registers have shown that about half of those ill with an eating disorder do not receive help from their doctors (Pagsberg & Wang, 1994). Many young people are reluctant to seek help and typically conceal their disorder from family and friends. Most patients seek medical management with their illness well underway, and the physician's work begins by preventing further medical complications.