Prevalence of psychotic symptoms in childhood and adolescence: a systematic review and meta-analysis of population-based studies.

BACKGROUND: Psychotic symptoms occur more frequently in the general population than psychotic disorder and index risk for psychopathology. Multiple studies have reported on the prevalence of these symptoms using self-report questionnaires or clinical interviews but there is a lack of consensus about the prevalence of psychotic symptoms among children and adolescents.MethodWe conducted a systematic review of all published literature on psychotic symptom prevalence in two age groups, children aged 9-12 years and adolescents aged 13-18 years, searching through electronic databases PubMed, Ovid Medline, PsycINFO and EMBASE up to June 2011, and extracted prevalence rates. RESULTS: We identified 19 population studies that reported on psychotic symptom prevalence among children and adolescents. The median prevalence of psychotic symptoms was 17% among children aged 9-12 years and 7.5% among adolescents aged 13-18 years. CONCLUSIONS: Psychotic symptoms are relatively common in young people, especially in childhood. Prevalence is higher in younger (9-12 years) compared to older (13-18 years) children.