At the time of this study, studies on therapy and medication were not conducted to assess their effectiveness for children with OCD under the age of seven. However, children as young as two years old can exhibit OCD symptoms.
This study by Dr. Ginsburg and her team aimed to assess whether an intervention designed for young children with OCD would be effective in reducing symptoms. Seven children with an average age of six were randomly assigned to one, two, or three weeks of monitoring before beginning the intervention — 12 weekly sessions for each child and their family that modified cognitive behavioral therapy/exposure and response prevention (CBT/ERP) for each child’s needs, aimed to reduce parent anxiety, and focused on improving the parent-child relationship. Children in the two and three-week monitoring group saw an increase in symptoms, but all had reduced symptoms following the intervention and at one-month follow-up. Parental accommodation of symptoms also decreased, but the intervention did not affect child or family functioning. This study demonstrated that a therapy based on CBT/ERP could be useful for young children with OCD, but that more research is needed.
*Ginsburg, G.S., Burstein, M., Becker, K.D., & Drake, K.L. (2011). Treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder in young children: An intervention model and case series. Child & Family Behavior Therapy, 33(2), 97-122. doi:10.1080/07317107.2011.571130