IMR Press / FBS / Volume 14 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.31083/j.fbs1404028
Open Access Original Research
Disease Characteristics and Psychiatric Comorbidities in Adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa Hospitalized During COVID-19 Pandemic
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1 Pediatric Department, S. Chiara General Hospital, 38122 Trento, Italy
2 Provincial Centre for Eating Disorders, 38122 Trento, Italy
*Correspondence: (Roberto Franceschi)
Academic Editor: Zahiruddin Quazi Syed
Front. Biosci. (Schol Ed) 2022, 14(4), 28;
Submitted: 28 July 2022 | Revised: 20 September 2022 | Accepted: 26 September 2022 | Published: 14 October 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Covid-19 Pandemic)
Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Background: Since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, an increase in new diagnoses and pediatric hospital admission for anorexia nervosa (AN) or atypical AN in adolescents have been reported, suggesting an adverse effect of COVID-19 on youth mental health. We hypothesized possible differences in prevalence of hospitalization and/or disease severity, related to socio-economic status and/or ethnicity. Methods: Retrospectively, patients were divided into two subgroups and compared according to the date of first hospital admission: “pre SARS-COV2 era” group (n. 45, 8th March 2016–8th March 2020) and “SARS-COV2 era” group (n. 43, 9th March 2020–8th March 2022). Results: During the two years of the SARS-COV2 era, we reported an increase in hospital admission incidence more than doubled respect to the “pre-SARS-COV2 era”. The “SARS-COV2 era group” showed a more rapid weight loss (p = 0.005), a minor duration of weight loss from lifetime maximum to admission (p = 0.019) and needed most frequently treatments with intravenous fluids (p < 0.0001), oral dietetic supplements (p <0.001) and enteral nutrition by nasogastric tube (p = 0.002). The same group presented higher prevalence of psychiatric comorbidities (63% vs. 22%, p < 0.0001) and required most frequently treatments with psychotropic drugs (56% vs. 24%, p = 0.002). We found higher family socioeconomic status (SES) in our patients with AN in both the periods and we did not find a shift in social class distribution over time. Conclusions: Our study confirms a significant increase in incidence of hospitalization and of psychiatric comorbidity in the pediatric population with AN during the second year of COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of SES or ethnic background. Further studies are needed to understand potential mechanisms that during COVID-19 pandemic trigger eating disorder symptoms.

anorexia nervosa
COVID-19 pandemic
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