Extremely Early Intervention: Scientists Try To Prevent Mental Illness Prenatally
Researchers gave the B vitamin choline to pregnant women, and found it successful in reducing pre-markers for schizophrenia after the child was born. In other news on children's health, a mother hunts down the mysterious cause of her son's paralysis, doctors turn away unvaccinated patients, the American Academy of Pediatrics updates its recommendations on SIDS and a doctor's drug warning.
Can Mental Illness Be Prevented In The Womb?
Every day in the United States, millions of expectant mothers take a prenatal vitamin on the advice of their doctor. The counsel typically comes with physical health in mind: folic acid to help avoid fetal spinal cord problems; iodine to spur healthy brain development; calcium to be bound like molecular Legos into diminutive baby bones. But what about a child's future mental health? (Stetka, 10/22)
Los Angeles Times:
Her Toddler Suddenly Paralyzed, Mother Tries To Solve A Vexing Medical Mystery
Erin Olivera waited weeks for doctors to tell her why her youngest son was paralyzed. Ten-month-old Lucian had started crawling oddly — his left leg dragging behind his right — and soon was unable to lift his head, following Erin only with his eyes. She took him to a hospital in Los Angeles, but doctors there didn’t know how to treat what they saw. (Karlamangla, 10/21)
Should Doctors Turn Away Unvaccinated Children To Protect Other Patients?
Childhood immunizations remain a deeply divisive issue. And though studies purporting to link vaccines to autism have been widely discredited, pockets of parental resistance persist: According to surveys by Elk Grove Village-based American Academy of Pediatrics of its member physicians, more doctors in 2013 than in 2006 reported encountering vaccine-hesitant families. In a report released in September, the academy also revealed that as parents decline to have their children vaccinated, more pediatricians are turning such families away in the name of safeguarding the health of other patients. (Thayer, 10/24)
The Washington Post:
Updated Guidelines On Infant Sleep Highlight Danger Of Parents’ Tiredness
The American Academy of Pediatrics updated its advice on how to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related deaths in a policy statement released Monday. The guidelines reaffirm many of the recommendations from the AAP’s previous policy, published in 2011. Parents should place babies to sleep on their backs and on a firm surface without any soft or loose bedding. It’s safest for babies to sleep in the same room as their parents but not in the same bed. (Callahan, 10/24)
Leading Psychosis Expert To His Students: To Avoid Risk, Hold Off On Pot Til 30
Virtually all American schoolchildren are told that starting alcohol or drugs early could be bad for their brains. But Öngür's warning to his medical students stems specifically from a body of research that has been accumulating since the 1980s, suggesting that heavy marijuana use early on -- mainly in the teen years, but also into the 20s — is linked to a higher risk of psychosis. A review paper in the peer-reviewed journal Biological Psychiatry this April summed up 10 long-term studies to date, most with sample sizes in the thousands, and concluded: "Overall, evidence from epidemiologic studies provides strong enough evidence to warrant a public health message that cannabis use can increase the risk of psychotic disorders." (Goldberg, 10/21)
And some common myths are busted —
The Washington Post:
Sugar Doesn’t Hype Kids Up, Vaccines Don’t Cause The Flu, And Other Myths, Busted.
As you think about decorating for the holidays, don’t worry about having poinsettias around. “Those beautiful flowers you’ve been so wary of keeping in your home during the holidays (lest they poison pets or children) are not toxic,” Live Science reports in “25 Medical Myths that Just Won’t Go Away,” citing a study that looked at nearly 23,000 cases of poinsettia exposure reported to poison control centers. None were fatal, and the most severe reactions were stomachaches. This is just one of the supposed medical facts that the website knocks down as myth. (Shapiro, 10/21)