The post-pubertal association of female gender with emotional disorder is a robust finding. However, studies exploring the association of gender and emotional disorders before puberty are few and present diverging results. The aim of this study was to present gender-specific incidence rates of emotional disorders throughout childhood.
This is a population-based cohort study of 907,806 Danish 3- to 18-year-olds. The outcome was assignment of an emotional disorder diagnosis based on in-patient and out-patient data from The Danish Psychiatric Central Register. Outcome measures were incidence rates and cumulative incidences for unipolar depressive disorder (ICD-10: F32-F33), anxiety disorders (ICD-10: F40-F42), and emotional disorders with onset specific to childhood (ICD-10: F93).
Pre-pubertal incidence rates for depressive and anxiety disorders were higher for boys than girls. At age 12 years the pattern reversed. The cumulative incidence for any emotional disorder (F32-F33, F40-F42, F93) on the 11th birthday was 0.52% (95% CI 0.50-0.55) for boys and 0.31% (95% CI 0.29-0.33) for girls. On the 19th birthday cumulative incidence was 2.33% (95% CI 2.24-2.43) for boys and 3.77% (95% CI 3.64-3.90) for girls. The pre-pubertal male preponderance was also significant for depressive disorders (F32-F33, p = 0.00144) and anxiety disorders (F40-F42, F93, p