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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Depression, anxiety and the dexamethasone suppression test in hospitalized prepubertal children.

Because of the methodologic differences and limited data, the sensitivity and specificity of the dexamethasone suppression test in children are in question. In our study we used 0.5 mg of dexamethasone and a 4 p.m. cortisol sample to perform the DST on 32 hospitalized prepubertal children diagnosed by a structured interview (DICA) and DSM-III criteria. Cortisols differed significantly by ANOVA among principal diagnoses, with highest values in children with major depression (MDE) or separation anxiety (SAD) and lowest in those with behavior disorders (BD). Using 5.0 micrograms/dl as a cutoff value for positive DST, MDE and SAD are positively and BD negatively associated with positive DST results. Rating scales for anxiety and depression showed no significant association with cortisol level. We conclude that the DST in this sample shows excellent sensitivity but its specificity is limited to distinguishing depressed or anxious children from those with pure behavior disorder.[1]


  1. Depression, anxiety and the dexamethasone suppression test in hospitalized prepubertal children. Livingston, R., Martin-Cannici, C. The Hillside journal of clinical psychiatry. (1987) [Pubmed]
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