Eating Disorders Linked to Self Harm

The presence of an eating disorder in teens has been linked to an alarming high rate of other self-harm tactics, such as cutting.

The findings of research conducted at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, the study also revealed that many healthcare providers regularly fail to diagnose instances of self injury.

Out of 1,432 eating disorder patients examined between the ages of 10 and 21, the study revealed that nearly 41 percent had documented incidents of intentionally harming themselves, most often by cutting and burning.

Also of notable concern was the fact that researchers believed inadequate clinical screening could mean that the count is much higher.

“These are very high numbers, but they’re still conservative estimates,” said the study’s lead author, Rebecka Peebles, MD, who was an instructor in pediatrics at Stanford when the research was conducted and is joining the faculty at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The sample of patients was drawn from intake evaluation records of patients admitted to the hospital from January 1997 through April 2008. Just over 90 percent of all the patients were female, three-quarters of them white, with a mean age of 15.

Of those identified to be inflicting self harm, the average age was 16, and 85.2 percent of this identified group were cutting themselves.

Read the full article at PsychCentral.

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