Reactive attachment disorder in children – psylex

Psychological problems – relationship problems

Risk factors: Parental psychological disorders increase the risk of reactive attachment disorders in children

01/22/2019 Reactive attachment disorder is a disorder of social behavior that affects the child’s ability to build normal attachment relationships.


The reactive attachment disorder is characterized by ambivalence in the search for comfort in caring relatives, emotional withdrawal, a lack of social skills, reduced positive affect and unexplained fear or irritability.

If left untreated, the disease affects the course of life, the functionality and later relationships of the child.

Extremely high risk if be >

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The current in Child psychiatry & Human development published Study shows, that if both parents had a psychiatric diagnosis, the child’s risk of diagnosing this attachment disorder was 51 times higher than that of children in whom the parents were not mentally ill.

The diagnosis of a mother’s mental disorder increased the child’s risk of reactive attachment disorder nine-fold, and a psychiatric diagnosis of the father increased the risk six-fold.

Drugs and depression

The most common combination of psychiatric diagnoses in parents whose children were diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder was the diagnosis of alcohol and drug addiction or substance abuse in both parents, which was associated with 20 percent of children.

The second most common combination was mothers with depression and fathers with alcohol and drug addiction or abuse, which occurred in about 17 percent of cases, said Subina Upadhyaya of the Child Psychiatry Research Center at the University of Turku, Finland.

Neglected / abused children

All 614 children diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder in Finland between 1991-2012 participated in the study. Previous studies have looked at the relationship between reactive attachment disorders and risk factors in general under unusual circumstances, such as for children in homes or care facilities or for abused children.

Other risk factors

The current results correspond to the previous ones studies with more restricted data. In addition, the researchers found in this study that reactive attachment disorder is associated with other risk factors:

  • maternal smoking while pregnancy,
  • single motherhood and
  • advanced paternal age.

© – Source: Child Psychiatry & Human Development –

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Christina Cherry
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