Anxious First Graders Show Lower Academic Functioning

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- First graders who are highly anxious and/or shy score significantly lower on reading and math achievement tests, experience lower social acceptance, and have more internalizing symptoms in eighth grade, according to a follow-up study.

Physicians who identify highly anxious or shy young children and intervene to improve their functioning could prevent long-term impairment.

Anxiety disorders occur in 6%-10% of children and adolescents, making them one of the most prevalent psychopathologies in younger patients. The most common manifestation in younger children is separation anxiety, whereas older children and adolescents experience more generalized anxiety disorder. Most pediatric patients with anxiety disorders, however, go undiagnosed and untreated as these patients tend to function normally.

Only about 10% are impaired enough to seek treatment.

"We wanted to identify risk factors for anxiety disorders to intervene early," Golda S. Ginsburg, Ph.D., lead author of the current study, said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Dr. Ginsburg and her colleagues assessed 149 first-grade African American students for subclinical signs of anxiety such as excessive worry and social withdrawal.

More than half of the students--58%--were male.

Seven years later, Dr. …