As many as 1 in 200 children and adolescents suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which is characterized by recurrent and intense obsessions and/or compulsions - such as hand-washing, counting, checking and cleaning - that cause severe discomfort and interfere with daily functioning. Children as young as 5 can be diagnosed with the condition but few research programmes have looked into treatments for children this young despite the fact that if left untreated early childhood OCD can severely disrupt and impair a child's development and functioning and can extend into adulthood. A U.S. study of 42 young children looked into the effectiveness of family based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which draws on successful approaches used with older children but also contains innovative elements that have been specifically tailored to children between the ages of 5 and 8. The study compared family CBT with relaxation techniques. The CBT programme was found to be significantly more effective in decreasing OCD symptoms and helping children achieve clinical remission. 69% of the children who completed all 14 weeks of the CBT programme achieved remission compared to only 20% of the relaxation group. Even among those children who started, but did not finish, the CBT programme 50% achieved clinical remission.
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