“Early detection of the most common chronic diseases in adolescents” was the topic of Third Croatian Congress on Prevention and Early Detection of Chronic Diseases organized by the International Interdisciplinary Association for Chronic Diseases (MIUKB) held on October 24, 2020. The congress was attended by experts from the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center, Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, PhD-MD, neuropediatrician; Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, PhD-MD, psychiatrist; and Bruno Profaca, PhD, clinical psychologist, as the host of the symposium “Getting out of the shadows: trauma in childhood and adolescence and health outcomes during life”.


The theme of the congress “Early detection of the most common chronic diseases in adolescents” is organized in the following sections: Adolescents; Metabolic diseases in adolescence; Structural education of patients with type 1 diabetes; Mental disorders; Mini symposium: child neglect and abuse. The working part of the congress is focused on secondary (early detection) and tertiary prevention (early effective treatment) of chronic diseases of adolescents. The professional and scientific sponsors of the Congress are the University of Zagreb and the WHO/Wonca International Classification Committee (WICC). Due to the epidemiological measures related to COVID-19, the congress was organized entirely through the Zoom platform (webinar).


The lecturers of the symposium “Getting out of the shadows: trauma in childhood and adolescence and health outcomes during life” were experts from the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center who gave the following lectures:


  1. Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, PhD-MD, child psychiatrist: Emotional Neglect and Childhood Abuse as a Predictor of Mental Disorders in Life


  1. Bruna Profaca, PhD, clinical psychologist: Adolescents and the Trauma of Abuse


  1. Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, PhD-MD, spec. Pediatrician, subspec. pediatric neurology: Toxic stress-missing link


As part of the symposium, the lecture was given by Dijana Ramić Severinac, MD, family medicine specialist and Sandra Bočkaj, MD: Neglect and abuse of children-dealing with the problem in the office


Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center experts presented theoretical and clinical findings related to some aspects of trauma during childhood and adolescence.


Lecture by Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, PhD-MD, focused on the importance of recognizing emotional abuse and neglect among young people, which often remains unrecognized, and thus without the possibility of intervention. The psychological trauma associated with this form of abuse leads to short-term and long-term consequences not only for the mental health of the individual but also for the physical health and difficulties in psychosocial functioning.


In her lecture, Bruna Profaca, PhD, drew attention to the specifics of abuse in adolescence and some indicators of why traumatization in this developmental age often remains unrecognized. She also made recommendations for talking to adolescents in a situation of confusion about abuse and the specifics of treatment work with adolescents.


Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, PhD-MD, presented data on neurobiological changes and consequent dysfunctions of neurodevelopment in the case of experience of toxic stress in childhood that occurs in connection with domestic violence, witnessing physical violence, neglect, sexual abuse, peer violence, life with a parent with severe and uncontrolled problems, parental dependence on alcohol or drugs, extreme poverty, separation from family, etc. Such stress permanently changes the child and the person in which he will grow up and significantly affects physical health in adulthood, which requires early triage, assessment and intervention.


We find it valuable that the attention of this Congress is focused on the period of adolescence and on the specific health and psychosocial needs of adolescents. The organizers of the congress focused on a young person with all the somatic and psychological potentials that need to be monitored, supervised and developed taking into account the well-being in the current developmental stage – adolescence, and the consequences in later adulthood. It is important that this development group becomes widely visible in the context of growing up and the transition from childhood to adulthood, which is also in line with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comments on Adolescents (2016).


We thank the organizers for the excellent organization and gathering of experts in these difficult times.


The full program of the congress is available at the link (on Croatian language):




Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.   

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