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Deaths from anorexia declining in Sweden

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Aug 25 (Reuters) The mortality among adolescent women with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa has waned -- at least in Sweden -- based on a comparison of records for two time periods, investigators report. They think that improved detection and better treatment may be the primary reasons for the improved outcomes.

Dr. Frank Lindblad of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and colleagues analyzed data from two cohorts of women. Their first cohort included 564 female patients born between 1958 and 1967 (mean age 16.4 years) first hospitalized for an eating disorder between 1977 and 1981, with follow-up until 1992.

The second cohort was comprised of 554 females born between 1968 and 1977, hospitalized for the first time for anorexia nervosa between 1987 and 1991, at an average age of 15.9 years, and who were followed until 2002.

Nineteen of the 25 deaths (3.4 per cent) that occurred in first patient cohort were probably associated with anorexia nervosa, the authors report.

In the second cohort, 7 deaths occurred, of which 4 (0.72 percent) were likely related to the eating disorder.

''Our mortality figures seem to be lower than what has generally been reported before in most countries,'' Lindblad noted.

The use of cognitive psychotherapy has become more popular (in Sweden and other countries) over the last 10 years, the investigator noted, ''but it would not be justified from our findings to say that this is an important factor.'' Furthermore, ''Mortality rates among other mental disorders have remained relatively stable,'' the author added, ''which may mean that general changes in psychiatric care cannot account for the improvements in survival among patients with anorexia nervosa.'' Instead, ''We believe that the improvement is a result of a combination of factors,'' he continued. ''The most important factors are probably the result of better medical care, including treatment of nutritional emergency states; and the establishment of specialized units during the second period.

The latter implies that patients have been taken care of by professionals with more specific experience of eating disorders.'' In addition to the factors noted above, the investigators also attribute better outcomes to increased awareness of the condition and prevention of suicides.


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