The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, defines eating disorders as a “persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the altered consumption or absorption of food and that significantly impairs physical health or psychosocial functioning.” The correct diagnosis of and distinction between eating disorders are important because the course, prognosis, and treatment may be vastly different. Although the age at peak incidence can vary depending on the eating disorder, these disorders commonly arise during adolescence. Adult and adolescent females with eating disorders may present with gynecologic concerns or symptoms, including irregular menses, amenorrhea, pelvic pain, atrophic vaginitis, and breast atrophy. Although formal diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders in adolescents are complex and outside the scope of practice for most general obstetrician–gynecologists, it is important that health care providers be comfortable with recognizing and screening at-risk patients. Recognizing risk factors for eating disorders can help to identify patients who should be further evaluated. Simply asking the patient how she feels about her weight, what she is eating, how much she is eating, and how much she is exercising can help identify at-risk patients. A physical examination and laboratory tests are valuable in the diagnosis of an eating disorder. Because eating disorders are complex and affect psychologic and physical health, a multidisciplinary approach is imperative. Although obstetrician–gynecologists are not expected to treat eating disorders, they should be familiar with the criteria that warrant immediate hospitalization for medical stabilization.
Number 740, June 2018
For a comprehensive overview of these recommendations, the full-text version of this Committee Opinion is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000002652.
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Committee on Adolescent Health Care
The North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology endorses this document. This Committee Opinion was developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Adolescent Health Care in collaboration with committee members Nancy Sokkary, MD and Anne-Marie E. Amies Oelschlager, MD, and committee liaison Laurie L. Hornberger, MD, MPH.
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