News archive 2003
Psychiatric disorders more common in children born late in the school year29 Aug 2003, PR 61/03
Research in this week's BMJ reveals that being one of the youngest children in your school year puts you at greater risk of developing mental health problems.
(BMJ Press Release)
Child psychiatric disorder and relative age within school year: cross sectional survey of large population sample BMJ Volume 327, pp 472-5
The authors surveyed over 10,000 school children in England, Scotland and Wales by using reports from teachers, parents and the pupils themselves. The questions probed aspects of the children's emotions, behaviour, activity levels, peer relationships and social behaviour. The answers were used to generate a measure of their mental health.
In England and Wales the oldest children in the school year are born in September and the youngest in August. Comparison of their mental health scores showed that children born in the summer months were much more likely to have suffered from psychiatric disorders.
In Scotland, the oldest children in a school year are born in March and the youngest in February. Despite the differences in the education system a similar trend was shown in Scotland confirming that it is the child's age, relative to their peers, that influences mental health rather than simply the season in which they were born.
The researchers concluded that encouraging teachers be more aware of the age differences between students and adopting a more flexible approach to a child's progression through school may reduce the number of children with psychiatric disorders.
For the full paper, click http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/327/7413/472
Notes to editors
King's College London
King's College London is the fourth oldest university in England with more than 13,700 undergraduates and nearly 5,600 graduate students in nine schools of study based at five London campuses. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
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King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of more than £114 million, and has anannual income of more than £369 million.
Professor Robert Goodman
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London
Tel: 0207 848 0471
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