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Mental Health News & Research

This page lists some useful resources related to children and mental health.

Suicide and safety issues

Suicides among young people are a serious problem. Each year in the U.S., thousands of youth commit suicide.  In 2013, suicide was the second leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and a major cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. More information and resources click...

Gender Dysphoria and Gender Identity Disorders

Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is a diagnosis for individuals who perceive themselves to be of the gender opposite to their biologic sex. Treatment for dysphoria and controversies are addressed.

Depression and the Childhood Depression Inventory

Depression and the Childhood Depression Inventory Presented at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004 Annual Meeting C Petersen, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine; , S Mayes, Ph.D., N Vegesna, M.D., D Mauger, Ph.D. Abstract Objective:  This study on inpatient children reports on the congruence of a clinician’s DSM-IV diagnosis versus a patient-administered scale (CDI) versus the parent’s report of depression. Methods: The sample comprised 111 children, 5 to 15 years of age admitted to our child psychiatry unit. Sixty-three of the children had a DSM-IV diagnosis of depression and 48 did not. Children completed the CDI. Results: CDI scores differed significantly (p < .0001) between children with depression and children without depression. Positive and negative predictive power were high (79% and 61%). Within the depressed group, percent agreement for depression was 81% for the child psychiatrist and child, and 81% for the psychiatrist and parent. Conclusion:  The CDI is a valuable instrument in the inpatient assessment of children and is a good predictor of depressive diagnosis. See full report in PDF format Free Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 to download and read the above PDF file (If you have an earlier version please upgrade to 5.0 for...

Autism and Genetics

Exploring Autism: the Search for a Genetic Etiology Katharine E. Yoder Penn State College of Medicine 2004   Introduction  Autistic Disorder is described in the DSM IV as having the characteristics of: Qualitative impairment in social interaction, Qualitative impairments in communication, Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, And delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years: Social interaction Language used in social communication, or Symbolic or imaginative play, And the disturbance is not described by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.   Incidence à possibility of a genetic link General population: 0.04% to 0.1%, Males 3-4x > Females Twin studies: Monozygotic (MZ) and Dizygotic (DZ) –     Autism in concordance rates occurs MZ 300x> DZ –     Autism penetrance not 100% (36.3-95.7%) in MZs –     Strong arguments for genetic as well as non-genetic influences Family studies –     Risk of autism in sibling of autistic child 3% (general pop 0.1%) –     Cognitive disabilities in parents and siblings of autistic inconclusive –     Bias in studies due to less # of siblings if one autistic child in family   Chromosomal Regions of Interest  15q11-13 inverted duplication Region associated with dyslexia and genes for 3-γ-aminobyturic acid (GABA)-A receptor subunits Prader-Willi/Angelman critical region (PWACR) – two types of duplications –     proximal to PWACR, no clinical significance, familial, normal –     within PWACR, often with DD and autism, familial or de novo maternally-derived often > significance vs. paternally-derived = imprinting?   The X chromosome Fragile X: expansion of CGG repeat sequence of Xq27.3 (FMR1 gene) –     2nd most common cause of mental retardation,...

Autism and Neurology

A Review of Current Thoughts on Localized Structural Lesions in Autistic Disorder Philip Omotosho Penn State College of Medicine 2002   Definition and Epidemiology The DSM-IV diagnosis of autistic disorder requires qualitative impairments in social interaction and in communication, plus restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder (autism) is rare, occurring in 2-5 children per 10,000 live births. It is more common in males, with a male to female ratio of 3:1. Risk of recurrence in siblings is 3-5 percent, a risk about 75 times greater than that in the general population. Autism is among the group of disorders known as the Pervasive Developmental Disorders. The other disorders in the group include Rett’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and Asperger’s disorder. Mental retardation is associated with 70 percent of cases and seizures with 33 percent. Autistic features are associated with other neurological diseases such as tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, fragile X syndrome, and phenylketonuria. These findings have led to the conclusion that there is a genetic predisposition to autism.   Structural Abnormalities in Autistic Disorder Several abnormalities have been described in the last 20 years in the study of Autism, including: Delayed maturation of frontal lobe circuitry (Zilbovicius et al., 1993) Decreased functional connections within the cerebral cortex and between the cortex and subcortical regions (Horwitz et al., 1988) Abnormalities of the dentatothalamocortical pathways (Chugani et al., 1997) These findings point not to a specific location in the brain but suggest that autism is due to connection abnormalities between neural networks that process information. The following studies have found evidence for localized structural abnormalities, which could explain clinically observed...

Single Mom’s Hostility Can Cause Problems

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Children living with single mothers are at greater risk for social, academic and psychiatric problems than their peers who live in two-parent families. But according to Canadian researchers, factors such as family income, a mother’s depression or a hostile parenting style–not single status by itself–accounts for at least part of this risk. “The results suggest that children from single-mother families develop difficulties for the same reasons as children from two-parent families,” conclude Dr. Ellen L. Lipman from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues. High levels of stress associated with low family income can undermine attempts to provide supportive and consistent parenting. Likewise, depressed mothers may be emotionally unavailable to their children, which can lead to low self-esteem and social problems. These problems, which can occur in any family, are more likely to occur in single-mother families, the researchers explain. Their study is published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The researchers reviewed information on more than 9,000 children aged 6 to 11 who took part in a national youth survey in Canada. Children living with single mothers were found to be at greater risk of developing a number of problems than their peers living with two parents, including low math scores and psychiatric difficulties. Higher household income decreased the risk of social and psychiatric problems, however, and was associated with higher math scores. A higher level of maternal education was also linked with higher math scores and fewer psychiatric problems while maternal depression and, in particular, hostile parenting were closely tied to the...

Kids on Behavioral Meds

The Child Advocate is devoted to children and the parents and professionals that work with them and advocate for them. Children on medication for behavioral problems is a major concern for parents. The information presented at this site is for general use only and is not intended to provide personal advice or substitute for the advice of a qualified professional. If you have questions about the information presented here, please consult the resources listed or other professional in your area. US kids on behavioral meds tripled in a decade NEW YORK, Apr 25 (Reuters Health) – The number of children in the United States prescribed medications to treat depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other behavioral conditions nearly tripled between 1986 and 1996, according to the results of a study. The overall annual rate for the prescription of these types of medications–called psychotropic medications because they aim to treat emotional/behavioral conditions–was 14 children per 1,000 in 1987 and increased to 39 children per 1,000 in 1996, the investigators found. In the study, Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University in New York City and colleagues reviewed surveys of medication use for more than 50,000 people including about 17,000 children under the age of 18 years in 1986 and 1996. The findings are published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Olfson and his team found that the number of children taking stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall, used to treat ADHD, quadrupled from 6 children per 1,000 in 1986 to 24 per 1,000 in 1996. Those taking antidepressants such as Prozac or...
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