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Archive for the ‘Teens’ Category

WebMD (2/1, DeNoon http://tinyurl.com/fishy-psychosis) reported that twelve weeks of fish oil pills made teens at high risk of psychosis much less likely to become psychotic for at least one year.   A year after entering the study, 11 of the 40 teens treated only with placebo pills developed a psychotic disorder.  This happened to only two of 41 teens who began the year with 12 weeks of fish oil capsules rich in omega-3 fatty acids.    “The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent or at least delay the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotics for the prodromal phase”, Amminger and colleagues suggest.    People with schizophrenia tend to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids, suggesting that the mental illness could be linked to a defect in the ability to process fatty acids.  There’s also evidence that fatty acids interact with chemical signaling in the brain and that omega-3 fatty acids protect brain cells from oxidative stress.  The study appears in the February issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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bdHealthDay (6/15, Reinberg) reported, “Binge drinking among American college students is on the rise, along with its consequences of drunk driving and drinking-related deaths,” according to a report from the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published in a supplement to the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. For the study, researchers examined “information from government databases and national surveys on alcohol use,” finding that “drinking-related deaths among students aged 18 to 24 years have increased steadily from 1,440 a year in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005.” The analysis also showed that “binge drinking also increased during this time, with the proportion of students who said they’d binged on alcohol in the past month going up from 42 to 45 percent.”

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textOn the front page of its Science Times section, the New York Times (5/26, D1, Hafner) reports that physicians and psychologists are “beginning to worry” that sending text messages “is leading to anxiety, distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury, and sleep deprivation” in teenagers. In fact, “American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Nielsen Company.” But, “the rise in texting is too recent to have produced any conclusive data on health effects.” Peter W. Johnson, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Washington, noted, however, that “based on our experiences with computer users, we know intensive repetitive use of the upper extremities can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.” Meanwhile, Sherry Turkle, PhD, a psychologist who is director of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, speculated that texting “might be causing a shift in the way adolescents develop” by making it more difficult for adolescents to “break free from parents as they grow into autonomous adults.”

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HealthDay (5/18, Preidt) reported, “Overweight teens, or those who believe they are, are more likely than other teens to attempt suicide,” according to a study appearing in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Investigators “looked at more than 14,000 high school students to determine if there’s a link between suicide attempts and body mass index (BMI), as well as a teen’s belief that he or she might be overweight — whether it’s true or not.” The researchers found that both male and female teenagers “who were overweight and those who believed they were overweight were more likely to attempt suicide than those who weren’t and those who didn’t believe they were overweight.” Lead researcher Monica Swahn, associate dean for research at College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia State University, said, “Our findings show that both perceived and actual overweight increase risk for suicide attempt.”

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Risperdal_tabletsOn the front of its Marketplace section, the Wall Street Journal (5/18, B1, Armstrong) reports a deceleration in the increase of antipsychotic-medication “prescriptions for children…as state Medicaid agencies heighten their scrutiny of usage,” and physicians “grow more wary of the powerful” medicines. The softening “sales for children is the first sign that litigation, reaction to improper marketing tactics, and concern about side effects may be affecting what had been a fast-growing children’s drug segment.” Data from medical market research company SDI Health indicate that “antipsychotic prescriptions for children under 18 rose 5.2 percent between 2007 and 2008, compared with an increase of 8.73 percent in the year-earlier period,” with the “slowdown” being “more pronounced among younger children.” But, some psychiatrists “who treat children with serious and dangerous behavioral problems” now “worry that misconceptions about” antipsychotics “will prompt some parents or doctors to balk at their use.” Psychiatrist Louis Kraus, MD, said, “For those children who are seriously mentally ill…the benefits far outweigh the side effects.”

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MedWire (5/13, Cowen) reports that, according to a study published online May 7 in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, “a childhood history of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) has a significant impact on the course of bipolar disorder.” For the study, researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute examined “60 men and 99 women with bipolar disorder.” The study “participants underwent comprehensive evaluations to assess affective symptoms, childhood AD/HD, and current AD/HD symptoms.” The team also conducted “an interview with a parent…to obtain objective information about a history of childhood AD/HD.” The investigators found that participants “with childhood only AD/HD and those with childhood plus adult AD/HD had a significantly earlier age at onset of their first psychotic symptom, at a combined average age of 14.2 years, than those with pure bipolar disorder, at an average age of 21.9 years.” In addition, “both AD/HD groups had a significantly earlier combined average age (16.7 years) at first affective episode than those with pure bipolar disorder (22.7 years).”

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The New York Times (4/19, ED12, Parker-Pope) reported that “although some children appear to outgrow” attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AH/HD) “as they age, doctors say that as many as two-thirds have symptoms that persist into adulthood.” Now, “studies suggest that college students with AD/HD are at greater risk for academic and psychological difficulties, and have lower grade-point averages, than peers without the problem.” According to Mark H. Thomas, MD, of the University of Alabama, “We have found that there are a lot of significant barriers these students face.” Dr. Thomas explained, “When they come to college without the external supports of parents and teachers to keep them organized and on task, oftentimes they struggle mightily to get everything done that they need to get done.” Students may also face difficulties with their medications because of their schedules. Dr. Thomas says “the solution may be taking longer-acting treatments twice a day, or a combination of an extended-release and short-acting treatment.”

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Following an AP story, Medscape (3/23, Hitt) reported that “escitalopram oxalate (Lexapro, Forest Laboratories, Inc.) has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the acute and maintenance treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.” The FDA granted approval “based on data from two flexible-dose, placebo-controlled trials that each lasted eight weeks. One trial was conducted in adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and compared escitalopram with placebo,” while “the other trial was conducted in children and adolescents aged seven to 17 years and compared citalopram with placebo.” The results of both studies demonstrated “a significant improvement in the Children’s Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R) in the treatment group compared with the placebo group,” with the “greatest benefit” being “observed in the adolescent group.”

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