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Mental Health News & Research

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

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...

Breast-feeding to support resilience to stress

SUNDAY, Jan. 6, 2007 (HealthDay News) — “Breast-feeding is considered a great way for a mother to form a close bond with her infant. And now there’s evidence to suggest it may also help kids be more resilient to stress.”Conclusions include that “breast feeding is associated with resilience against the psychosocial stress linked with parental divorce/separation. This could be because breast feeding is a marker of exposures related to maternal characteristics and parent–child interaction.“ The study findings were published in the journal Archives of Disease in...

Celiac Disease Present in 1% of 5-Year-Olds in Study

(The Nemours Foundation) Celiac disease results from a sensitivity to a dietary protein (called gluten) found in wheat and certain other grains. The immune system’s abnormal response to this protein causes damage to the lining of the intestine, interfering with its ability to absorb nutrients. How common is celiac disease? Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver examined the prevalence of celiac disease in a group of 5-year-old children. Three hundred eighty-six 5-year-old children participated in this 5-year study of the prevalence of celiac disease. At birth, the umbilical cord blood of all the children was tested to determine the presence of a gene that may identify people at increased risk for developing celiac disease. Throughout the study, the children periodically underwent additional blood tests and if celiac disease was suspected, biopsies of the child’s intestinal tract were done to diagnose the disease. Within the general population, the risk for celiac disease among 5-year-olds was about 1%. The risk for celiac disease was higher in female children. In general, celiac disease was not recognized in children under 2.5 years. What This Means to You: Celiac disease affects one child out of every 100, according to the results of this study. If your child has any of the symptoms associated with celiac disease such as difficulty gaining weight, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and irritability, talk to your child’s doctor. The good news? The symptoms of celiac disease can be eliminated if your child eats a gluten-free diet. Source: Edward J. Hoffenberg, MD; Todd MacKenzie, PhD; Katherine J. Barriga, MSPH; George S. Eisenbarth, MD, PhD; Fei Bao, MD; Joel...

America’s Child Death Shame

Published: 17 October 2011 Last updated at 07:35 ET, BBC © 2011 “Every five hours a child dies from abuse or neglect in the US. The latest government figures show an estimated 1,770 children were killed as a result of maltreatment in 2009. A recent congressional report concludes the real number could be nearer 2,500.“  “Sixty-six children under the age of 15 die from physical abuse or neglect every week in the industrialised world. Twenty-seven of those die in the US – the highest number of any other country.“ “Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.“ “America’s Death Shame,” was seen on BBC World News affiliates, including PBS and NPR stations in most American cities. The nature of the broadcast is about the magnitude of child abuse — and particularly child-abuse-related deaths — in America. See the full article at BBC ©...

Aggression Relates to Time in Child Care

Children who spent more time in child care were rated by caregivers, mothers, and kindergarten teachers as having more behavior problems than did children of the same age who spent less time in child care.

Discipline Disputes

Continued behavior problems often indicate that a child’s program is not appropriate. If parents suspect that behavior problems are preventing their child from succeeding at school, they should write to the principal and request an IEP Team Meeting or “Pre-Hearing Conference.”

Violence and Substance Abuse

Exposure to Violence Linked to Substance Use in Teens (The Nemours Foundation) Children and teens who witness violence or who are victims of violence in their communities are more likely to use dangerous substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs, say researchers from Belgium, Russia, and the United States. A total of 958 Belgian teens, 1,036 Russian teens, and 1,386 American teens between 14 and 17 years old participated in a survey of violence exposure and substance use. Teens were asked to identify whether they had ever been beaten up or mugged, threatened, shot or shot at with a gun, attacked or stabbed with a knife, chased by gangs or individuals, or seriously wounded in a violent incident. In addition, teens were asked whether they had ever witnessed the same events. Teens were also asked whether and how often they smoked, used marijuana, drank alcohol, or used other drugs such as stimulants, heroin, and LSD. Finally, teens were asked whether they had started a fist fight, participated in a gang fight, hurt someone badly in a fight, or carried a weapon in the past year. In all three countries, teens who were exposed to more violence had higher rates of smoking, alcohol use, marijuana use, and other drug use. Exposure to violence in the United States was not as strongly related to substance use as it was in Russia or Belgium. What This Means to You: Although the results of this study do not prove cause and effect, they suggest that teens who are exposed to violence may be more likely to turn to the use of...

Some Adolescent Violence Is Predictable

CHICAGO, May 16 (Reuters Health) – Adolescents who are exposed to violence, abuse alcohol or drugs and have only one parent are at increased risk of killing someone, Dr. Robert Zagar and colleagues from the University of Illinois reported here at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting. Dr. Zagar’s team used data from the juvenile court system in Chicago to develop a set of tools to predict the risk of violence in adolescents that they presented in a report called “Asking the Right Questions to Find Teenage Killers.” Mental health professionals, school counselors and youth officers can use the system to prevent future tragedies like the Columbine High School killings, the researchers report. “The object is not to label them and punish them, but to find them and provide them with services,” Dr. Zagar said during a press briefing. Dr. Zagar and his colleagues compared risk factors for three groups of youth: 101 convicted killers, 101 non-violent youth offenders and a control group of 101 teens from the community. Adolescents with violence in the family, child abuse, gang membership, and alcohol and drug use are at twice the risk of killing someone compared with teenagers without these risk factors, Dr. Zagar said. When those factors are combined with access to weapons, previous arrests, learning problems, and truancy, the teen is four times more likely to become a killer than other youths, he added. For those with an arrest record or a history of school suspensions, the warning signs are obvious. But too often they are missed, Dr. Zagar said. “That means the psychologist, the parent and the teacher, they...

Violence-Related Behaviors in Adolescents

A Cross-national Study of Violence-Related Behaviors in Adolescents June 2004— “Violent behavior among adolescents is a significant problem worldwide, and a cross-national comparison of adolescent violent behaviors can provide information about the development and pattern of physical violence in young adolescents. Smith-Khuri and colleagues examined frequencies of adolescent violence-related behaviors in 5 countries and associations between violence-related behaviors and potential explanatory characteristics.” “A significant body of information currently exists describing violent behavior in the adolescent population of the United States, yet violent behavior in adolescents outside and in relation to the United States is not well characterized. Comparison of violence-related behaviors in US youths with those of their peers in other countries can provide a context for the US findings. Our analysis found that for 3 violence-related behaviors—fighting, weapon carrying, and injuries from fighting—adolescents from 5 European countries were remarkably similar in terms of frequencies, whereas the results were not as uniform cross-nationally for involvement in bullying. This cross-national comparison allows circumspection on whether violent behavior in adolescence is more a function of environmental, cultural, and political influences or to what extent it is part of the normal developmental process of adolescence.” For reference see:  The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent...

Stress Disorder Common Among Children

In 90 percent of families with children injured in a traffic crash, the child or a parent will suffer at least one significant acute stress symptom, according to a study at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. And 25 percent of children and parents experience more pervasive symptoms that warrant clinical attention.

AD/HD under IDEA

What You Need To Know About AD/HD Under The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (By Matthew Cohen, JD)

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