Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of mental and behavioral disorders in preschoolers is critical for a better prognosis, ultimately leading to improved quality of life for both the child and the family. Our study investigated the clinical profile of mental and behavioral disorders in children < 7 years of age, seeking consultation at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Muscat, Oman, between 1 June 2006 and 31 December 2010. The objective was to explore demographic variables, intervention types, and annual trends.
This retrospective, descriptive study was conducted by reviewing the electronic records of preschoolers seeking consultation on mental and behavioral disorders at the Department of Behavioral Medicine. The diagnosis was based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria.
The total number of cases was 466, the majority (77.9%) being boys. The cumulative frequencies and annual hospital-based prevalence rates were estimated for each category of mental and behavioral disorders. Our findings showed increased service utilization among preschoolers, as reflected in the annual trend and case-specific prevalence rates. While comorbidity was common, the most frequent disorders encountered were attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (70.8%), developmental language disorder (23.6%), autism spectrum disorders (20.2%), and disruptive behavior disorders (11.6%). The most commonly prescribed drugs/supplementation were risperidone (18.7%), atomoxetine (9.7%), omega-3 (8.8%), and methylphenidate (6.2%).
Consultations for mental and behavioral disorders are being sought for Omani preschoolers. Beside pharmacotherapy, other interventions, which are an integral part of a much desired multidisciplinary approach should be introduced. Readdressing the missing needs is essential for a comprehensive approach to managing mental and behavioral disorders.