Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sleep Study: Resting Brain Allows Dolphins To Stay Awake For Weeks

This is an interesting article discussing how dolphins only sleep with half of their brain at a time which allows the dolphin to stay awake for weeks at a time.

insomnia in adults leaves us AWAKE with only half our brains...LOL...JR

Dolphins can stay constantly alert for more than two weeks by sleeping with only half of their brains, researchers say.
These findings suggest how dolphins can keep on the constant lookout for sharks, investigators added.
Unlike land mammals, dolphins sleep with only part of their brains at any time, past research has suggested. Half of their brains rest, while the other half remains "awake," and dolphins regularly switch which side is active.
"After being awake for many hours or days, humans and other animals are forced to stop all activity and sleep," said researcher Brian Branstetter, a marine biologist at the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego. "Dolphins do not have this restriction, and if they did, they would probably drown or become easy prey."
To see just how mindful dolphins are with just half a brain, researchers tested their ability to scan the environment. Dolphins use echolocation to map the world, a biological form of sonar where they emit clicks and listen for their echoes to probe murky, dark surroundings. [Sleep Tight! Snoozing Animals Gallery]
The researchers set up a portable floating pen outfitted with eight modules, each consisting of an underwater sound projector and microphone. When a dolphin scanned any of these modules using echolocation clicks, they could respond with sounds mimicking echoes of those clicks from remote surfaces. Essentially, these modules could behave as "phantom targets" — illusions that acoustically simulated physical objects.
dolphin experimentDolphins were tested using underwater sound projectors. When they detected certain sounds, the dolphins had to press a paddle. The results are detailed online Oct. 17 in the journal PLoS ONE.
The scientists had two dolphins — a female, Say, and a male, Nay — continuously scan these modules. If they detected phantom targets, they were trained over the course of a year to press a paddle to get fish. The dolphin Say often gave victory squeals whenever she succeeded.
The scientists found these dolphins could successfully use echolocation with near-perfect accuracy and no sign of deteriorating performance for up to 15 days. The researchers did not test how much longer the dolphins could have continued.
"Dolphins can continue to swim and think for days without rest or sleep, possibly indefinitely," Branstetter told LiveScience.
These findings suggest that dolphins evolved to sleep with only half their brains not only to keep from drowning, but also to remain vigilant.
"These majestic beasts are true unwavering sentinels of the sea," Branstetter said.
Future research can help verify whether the dolphins stayed awake and alert for multiple days by sleeping with half their brains. This would require monitoring their brains for electrical activity via electroencephalogram, or a EEG.
"Research with freely moving humans who wear portable EEG equipment has been conducted; training a dolphin to wear a similar portable EEG backpack that is capable of withstanding and functioning in an ocean environment presents much greater challenges," Branstetter said. "However, these hurdles are not insurmountable. Also, we are interested in investigating if dolphins can perform more complex cognitive tasks without rest, like problem-solving or understanding an artificial language."
Read more here

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Study: Preemies from Low-Income Families at High Risk for Dangerous Brain Bleeds

A study from Johns Hopkins shows that premies who are born to a low socioeconomic family are more likely to have dangerous hemorrhages.

While interesting, I never know how to apply this data in the office, the NICU or my cerebral palsy clinics.... JR

Babies born prematurely to low-income parents have a disproportionately high risk for developing dangerous brain bleeds that require multiple surgeries and extensive follow-up, according to a small Johns Hopkins Children's Center study.

The findings -- published online Sept. 28 in the journal Pediatric Neurosurgery and based on an analysis of 38 patients referred to Johns Hopkins for treatment of brain hemorrhages related to premature birth -- offer a sobering reminder of the role socio-economic factors can play in health outcomes, the researchers say.
The link between poverty and premature birth has been well-documented, the investigators say, but the new findings go a step further and focus on the consequences of one particularly dire and fairly common complication of prematurity -- brain hemorrhages.
"Our study shows just how detrimental and far-reaching the effects of prematurity can be, medically and otherwise, highlighting the critical need to better identify high-risk pregnancies and reduce the number of premature births," says Edward Ahn, M.D., pediatric neurosurgeon and senior author on the research.
"Brain hemorrhages can have a lifelong impact on a child's neurological and cognitive development, but also create a financial burden on the families, many of whom in our study were already economically challenged," Ahn adds.
The premature brain's blood vessels are highly vulnerable to rapid changes in blood and brain pressure that occur around birth. While some brain bleeds are small and contained within the blood vessel, others can spread further and significantly damage the brain, particularly if not diagnosed and treated promptly. Serious hemorrhages require surgery, intensive follow-up and, often, long-term care to deal with the neurological and developmental after-effects of the condition.
The study tracked 38 babies treated at Hopkins Children's between 2007 and 2010 for complications of brain hemorrhages they had suffered during preterm birth. Most infants in the study (65 percent) were from low-income families and received public health insurance(63 percent). Household income is not part of a standard medical record, but the researchers used zip code and Medicaid status as proxies for income. Medicaid is the public health insurance program for low-income children.
In addition to the higher risk for brain bleeds, the study showed babies from lower-income homes and those with public health insurance had fewer scheduled follow-up appointments and more emergency room visits, compared with babies with private health insurance and with those from higher income homes. The researchers note the differences were clear, even though they didn't reach statistical significance due to the small number of patients in the study.
"If a family foregoes a scheduled follow-up and instead ends up in the ER with a serious, yet likely preventable complication, the medical and financial consequences can be far worse not only for the family but for the health care system as a whole because ER care is more expensive than routine check-ups," Ahn says.
The investigators said their findings need to be replicated on a wider scale in order to further tease out the reasons behind the disproportionate risk.
Read more here

Voodoo Death - Can you be scared to death? Yes.

I have had the honor to attend many talks by Dr. Samuels. If neurology had rock stars...he's be all 4 Beatles. - JR
Earthquakes, terrorist attacks and muggings have all scared people to death. Sporting events, too, sometimes cause frenzied fans to drop dead. Neurologist Martin Samuels of Brigham and Women's Hospital explains how positive or negative excitement can lead to a heart-stopping surge of adrenaline.
Can you be scared to death? Yes, in fact, you can. You can literally drop dead from fear, a phenomenon doctors call voodoo death. Kind of spooky, huh? Well, it can happen during an earthquake, a terrorist attack or a mugging, and you don't have to be frightened to death.
Sporting events, when you're rooting on your favorite team, can up your risk of heart failure, too. How does it happen, and what's the risk? Is there any chance a Halloween spook could send your heart aflutter? Here to talk about it is Dr. Martin Samuels. He's chairman of the Department of Neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a professor of neurology at Harvard Med School in Boston. He joins us by phone. 
radio show and other articles below...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Electronic Nose Detects Obstructive Sleep Apnea

A new 'electronic nose' developed by German scientists can detect through a person's breath whether they have obstructive sleep apnea or not.

Researchers have developed an electronic nose that can detect whether a person has obstructive sleep apnea.

The electronic nose will change the way the disease is detected, German researchers say. Currently, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is diagnosed after an overnight sleep test that is expensive and time-consuming. The new nose works by detecting the presence of certain molecules in the patient's exhaled breath. Sleep apnea is associated with inflammation in the upper airways. The electronic nose picks up molecules that are present when there is an inflammation.

The device was tested on 60 people, of which 40 had OSA. Researchers tested the accuracy of the electronic nose in detecting the disease. Researchers also used the device to measure any improvements in the patients' condition.

The participants were given questionnaires and a standard sleep test to assess their condition. Results of standard tests were then matched against those obtained from measurements using the electronic nose. Result analysis showed that the electronic nose detected the presence of sleep apnea with a sensitivity of 93 percent.

"This is the first time an electronic nose has been tested in the setting of sleep apnoea diagnosis," said lead author of the study Dr. Timm Greulich from the Marburg Hospital in Germany.

Dr. Greulich added that the device can rule out the disease in low-risk populations and in populations that have a risk of developing sleep apnea; the device can be used to decide who needs a complete check-up for sleep apnea.

"Following these results, we foresee that the use of an electronic nose could reduce costs by more appropriately selecting patients who require the sleep examination," Dr. Greulich said.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes many health complications and increases risk for stroke, depression, and irregular heartbeat. Interrupted sleep can also result in drowsiness during the day. People who do not get to sleep for 8 hours at night are at increased risk for car crashes, work related injuries and other accidents. Poor sleep for longer durations can also lead to cognitive decline.

Mild cases of sleep apnea can be treated with behavioral changes while moderate to severe ones require the use of C-PAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a progressive condition and can get worse with age.

"This is an interesting study, adding to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that electronic noses are a future potential tool for the detection of respiratory diseases. Although the results are encouraging, it is important to acknowledge the limitations in this kind of statistical analysis and it is not yet definite proof that this is an accurate diagnostic tool," said Ramon Farre, European Respiratory Journal Associate Editor.

Read more here

Poor Sleep Increases Risk of Hypertension, Especially for Women

Studies have shown that poor sleep can increase the risk of hypertension in adults. The risk may be greater for women than for men.

Here’s some sobering and serious news for women: sleeping poorly may double your risk of a form of high blood pressure that is not easily treated.
In a study presented at the American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions, researchers from Italy’s University of Pisa said they’d found a strong association between poor sleep quality and resistant hypertension in women. Resistant hypertension is a form of high blood pressure that does not respond to treatment, including use of blood-pressure-lowering medications. Researchers in this study also examined a possible relationship between depression and resistant hypertension.
The study included 234 adults who were already being treated for high blood pressure in an outpatient hypertension program, a group that was evenly split between men and women.  Researchers analyzed data on sleep quantity and sleep quality, depression and anxiety, and risk factors for cardiovascular problems.
When it came to sleep duration, researchers found:
  • The average amount of daily sleep among participants was 6.4 hours. This measurement was roughly the same for men and women
  • 49% of those studied slept fewer than 6 hours daily
But it was sleep quality, not sleep quantity, that researchers determined had link to the risk of resistant hypertension. When examining sleep quality, researchers found that women were significantly more likely to experience poor sleep quality than men:
  • 46% of women studied had poor sleep quality
  • 30% of men experienced poor sleep quality
Researchers also found that women had higher rates of depression, more than double that of men:
  • 20% of women had depressive symptoms
  • 7% of men had symptoms of depression
Overall, 15% of the study population was found to be suffering from resistant hypertension. When looking at the relationship between resistant hypertension and sleep quality, researchers found that, among women, those who had resistant hypertension were five times as likely to also have poor sleep quality. They found no similar association between poor sleep quality and resistant hypertension among men.
Investigating a possible association between depression and resistant hypertension, researchers found similar results. Women who had resistant hypertension were more likely to show signs of depression than those without. And again, the study results produced no similar association between depression and resistant hypertension among men.
There’s a lot to take note of here. First the researchers found that it was sleep quality—not quantity—that was a significant factor in the link between resistant hypertension and sleep. Second, the differences between men and women are striking, and potentially significant. It’s too early to know, on the basis of an individual study, whether women are more at-risk than men to resistant hypertension, on the basis of their sleep. But we do know that men and women experience the effects of sleep differently and have different vulnerabilities when it comes to the health consequences of sleep problems. We need more research in this area to better understand not only the effects of disrupted sleep on high blood pressure, but also how the risks for men and women may differ.
There’s much we don’t yet know about the relationship between sleep and high blood pressure, but we have seen other research that shows a link between the two, in men and women:
  • This study found men who were deprived of deep sleep were more likely to develop hypertension during their older years. Researchers examined the sleep patterns 784 men ages 65 and older. None of the men had high blood pressure at the outset of the study. Over a period of 3.4 years, approximately 30% of these men developed hypertension. The men who developed hypertension were significantly more likely to spend less time in the stage of deep sleep, or slow wave sleep, than men who remained free of high blood pressure.
  • This study of nearly 6,000 men and women ages 40-100 looked at the relationship between sleep quantity and hypertension. They found that sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night was associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure. Sleeping fewer than 6 hours per night was associated with a particularly high risk. This study also found that sleeping more than 8 hours was associated with an elevated risk for hypertension.
Nearly one third of men and women in the United States suffer from high blood pressurewhich, without treatment, can cause serious health complications, including heart attack and stroke. We don’t know everything we need to, yet, about the relationship between sleep and hypertension, or the ways it may affect men and women differently. But here’s what we do know: Sleep, more specifically high-quality sleep, can play an important role in protecting your cardiovascular health. Getting enough sleep—and the right kind of restorative sleep—may help to reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
Read more here

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Yoga may help with insomnia

Yoga has been found to have many positive effects for people with sleep issues.

Looking for a low-impact exercise routine with high returns for health and sleep? Try yoga.
The pleasures and benefits of yoga are widely understood: Yoga can improve physical strength and flexibility, improve breathing, reduce stress and enhance mental focus. What may be less well known are the positive effects that yoga can have on sleep.
A new study indicates that yoga can help improve sleep among people suffering from chronic insomnia. Researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated how a daily yoga practice might affect sleep for people with insomnia and found broad improvements to measurements of sleep quality and quantity.
In this study, researchers included people with different types of insomnia, evaluating people with both primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia is sleeplessness that develops on its own, independent of any other health problem or sleep disorder. Secondary insomnia develops as a symptom or consequence of another medical condition. Many illnesses and health problems are associated withinsomnia, including cancer, chronic pain conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, and depression. Medications taken for chronic or acute health conditions can also trigger insomnia, as can the use (and abuse) of substances such as alcohol.
Researchers in this study provided their subjects with basic yoga training, then asked them to maintain a daily yoga practice for eight weeks. The study participants kept sleep diaries for two weeks before the yoga regimen began and for the duration of the eight-week study period. In the sleep diaries, they kept a record of the amount of time spent asleep, number of times they awakened during the night, and the duration of time spent sleeping between periods of waking, in addition to other details about nightly sleep amounts and sleep quality. Twenty people completed the eight-week evaluation, and researchers analyzed the information in their sleep diaries to evaluate the influence of yoga on the disrupted sleep of chronic insomnia. They found improvements to several aspects of sleep, including:
• Sleep efficiency
• Total sleep time
• Total wake time
• Sleep onset latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) 
• Wake time after sleep onset
There isn't a great deal of research into the effects of yoga on sleep and its potential value as a treatment for sleep problems and disorders. But we have seen other scientific evidence in recent years of yoga's effectiveness in improving sleep:
• This study of 410 cancer survivors found that yoga was linked to improved sleep quality, reduced feelings of fatigue, reduced frequency of use of sleep medication, and an improved sense of quality of life among patients who practiced yoga twice a week for 75-minute sessions.
• This research looked at the effects of yoga among post-menopausal women with insomnia and found that yoga was linked to a reduction in symptoms and the severity of the sleep disorder. This study also found yoga linked to lower stress levels and an enhanced sense of quality of life.
• In this study of women with osteo-arthritis and sleep problems, an evening yoga practice was linked to significant improvements in sleep efficiency and a decrease in the frequency of individual nights of insomnia.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder among American adults, with 10-15 percent of the population suffering from chronic insomnia. As many as 40 percent of adults in the U.S. experience some type of insomnia every year. Older people, women, and those with other health problems are at higher risk for insomnia. Despite its prevalence, insomnia, like many other sleep disorders, remains significantly under-diagnosed, according to recent research. This study showed that while 1 percent of the population surveyed had a clinical diagnosis of insomnia, 37 percent of those surveyed showed symptoms of insomnia.
Insomnia may be common, but if left untreated its health consequences can be anything but benign. Chronic insomnia is associated with a number of serious medical conditions:
Insomnia is associated with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. This large-scale studyfound that people with insomnia had significantly elevated risk of heart attack. Insomnia is alsoassociated with inflammation in the body, which is itself a risk factor for heart problems and other serious illnesses.
Research indicates that lack of sleep can have negative effects on cognition, and the brain. This study linked insomnia with destruction of gray matter in the brain. This group of four studies, conducted independently of one another, found evidence that poor and fragmented sleep may contribute to impaired cognition as we age.
Insomnia has been found linked to both anxiety and depression. The relationship between sleeplessness and these mental health disorders is still being understood, including whether one condition precipitates the other. But insomnia, depression and anxiety share a deep and difficult connection.
Lack of sleep, and disrupted sleep, is also associated with obesity. We've seen extensive research that shows under-sleeping is linked to weight gain and the diseases associated with obesity.
With so much at stake, finding effective treatment for insomnia is an important endeavor. Sometimes medication can be an appropriate choice, but any treatment is best to begin with basic lifestyle changes. Yoga and other regular forms of exercise can help to form the basis of a long-term, sustainable lifestyle that helps you sleep more, and better.
Read more here

Scientists Model How Vibrations from Helmet-to-Helmet Hits Wobble the Brain

A group of researchers have found a way to illustrate what helmet-to-helmet hits do to the brain.

It's fall football season, when fight songs and shouted play calls fill stadiums across the country. Another less rousing sound sometimes accompanies football games: the sharp crack of helmet-to-helmet collisions. Hard collisions can lead to player concussions, but the physics of how the impact of a helmet hit transfers to the brain are not well understood. A research team from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., has created a simplified experimental model of the brain and skull inside a helmet during a helmet-to-helmet collision. The model illustrates how the fast vibrational motion of the hit translates into a sloshing motion of the brain inside the skull.

The researchers will present their findings at the 164th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), held Oct. 22 -- 26 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Murray Korman, a professor in the physics department at the U.S. Naval Academy, worked with his student Duncan Miller during the course of a semester to develop the experimental model. To simulate a side collision, the researchers hung one helmet from the ceiling with clothesline and swung the second helmet into the first, like a pendulum. Accelerometers mounted on the helmets recorded the vibrations before, during, and after the hit.
Figuring out simple ways to model a human head inside the helmets was a challenge, Korman notes. Human cadavers were out, and crash test mannequins were too expensive. After reading up on skull vibrations, the team settled on a wide plastic hoop, shaped like the skirt of a bell. "They say that when you get hit, you get your bell rung. No pun intended, but your skull does kind of ring like a bell," Korman says.
The researchers modeled the brain as a brass cylinder cushioned in a slot carved out of open-cell foam that mimicked fluid within the brain cavity. By choosing simple materials the researchers minimized the complexity of their set-up while retaining those elements needed to capture the essential motions of the brain and the skull. They found that their brass cylinder brain sloshed back and forth within the skull much more slowly than the rate of vibration of the initial hit. Building a model is important, Korman notes, because it can help determine how a measurable parameter, like the acceleration of a helmet during a hit, would translate into potentially damaging brain motion. "The ultimate damage comes when the brain hits the side of the skull," Korman says.
Korman says there is still a lot of work to do to improve the model. He hopes in the future to collaborate with biophysicists to incorporate more detailed knowledge of the material properties of the brain and skull. Ultimately, the model might be used to test new helmets designed to better protect the brain from hits. Korman describes futuristic helmets that might crumple on impact like plastic car bumpers, leaving the only bell ringing on the field to be done by the marching band.
Read more here

Study: Prenatal antibiotics linked to high risk of epilepsy

A study claims that taking a specific type of antibiotic during pregnancy could increase the risk of epilepsy in their children.

A new study in Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology suggests that taking cystitis antibiotics during pregnancy increases risk of epilepsy in children.

J. E. Miller of School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA and colleagues conducted the study and found taking cystitis antibiotics during pregnancy was associated with 10 to 20 percent increased risk of epilepsy in children.

For the study, researchers followed all liveborn singletons (447,629 children) born in Denmark between Jan 1996 and Sept 2004 for as long as 9.9 years.  A total of 2,848 children were diagnosed with epilepsy during the follow-up.

Cystitis antibiotics included pivmecillinam, sulphamethizole and nitrofurantoin. 

Children born to mothers who had redeemed prescriptions during pregnancy for pivmecillinam, sulphamethizole, and nitrofurantoin were 20%, 20% and 10% more likely to develop epilepsy, compared to those born to mothers who did not use antibiotics during pregnancy.

After adjustment for  other factors, among mothers with multiple redeemed prescriptions during pregnancy, those taking pivmecillinam or sulphamethizole  or nitrofurantoin were each associated with 30 percent increased risk of epilepsy in their children.

Read more here

TV and Devices in Kids' Bedrooms Linked to Poor Sleep and Obesity

A study looks at the impact televisions and other devices in childrens' bedrooms has on their quality of sleep.

Children who bask in the nighttime glow of a TV or computer don't get enough rest and suffer from poor lifestyle habits, new research from the University of Alberta has shown.

A province-wide survey of Grade 5 students in Alberta showed that as little as one hour of additional sleep decreased the odds of being overweight or obese by 28 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively. Children with one or more electronic devices in the bedroom -- TVs, computers, video games and cellphones -- were also far more likely to be overweight or obese.
"If you want your kids to sleep better and live a healthier lifestyle, get the technology out of the bedroom," said co-author Paul Veugelers, a professor in the School of Public Health, Canada Research Chair in Population Health and Alberta Innovates -- Health Solutions Health Scholar.
Veugelers, director of the Population Health Intervention Research Unit that works with the Alberta Project Promoting active Living and healthy Eating (APPLE Schools), said the research is the first to connect the dots on the relationship between sleep, diet and physical activity among kids.
Nearly 3,400 Grade 5 students were asked about their nighttime sleep habits and access to electronics through the REAL Kids Alberta survey. Half of the students had a TV, DVD player or video game console in their bedroom, 21 per cent had a computer and 17 per cent had a cellphone. Five per cent of students had all three types of devices.
Some 57 per cent of students reported using electronics after they were supposed to be asleep, with watching TV and movies being the most popular activity. Twenty-seven per cent of students engaged in three or more activities after bedtime.
Researchers found that students with access to one electronic device were 1.47 times as likely to be overweight as kids with no devices in the bedroom. That increased to 2.57 times for kids with three devices, with similar results reported among obese children.
More sleep also led to significantly more physical activity and better diet choices, researchers found.
Co-author Christina Fung noted that children today are not sleeping as much as previous generations, with two-thirds not getting the recommended hours of sleep per night. In addition to healthy lifestyle habits, a good night's sleep has been linked to better academic outcomes, fewer mood disorders and other positive health outcomes, she said.
"It's important to teach these children at an earlier age and teach them healthy habits when they are younger."
Read more here

Association between lack of sleep and teen sports injuries

A new study shows an association between teenagers not getting enough sleep and the frequency of sports injuries.

Adolescent athletes who slept eight or more hours each night were 68 percent less likely to be injured than athletes who regularly slept less, according to an abstract presented Oct. 21, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans.

For the abstract, "Lack of Sleep is Associated with Increased Risk of Injury in Adolescent Athletes," researchers asked middle and high school athletes (grades 7 to 12) enrolled at the Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, Calif., to answer questions about the number of sports they played and the time they committed to athletics (at school and through other programs), whether they used a private coach, whether they participated in strength training, how much sleep they got on average each night, and how much they subjectively enjoyed their athletic participation. Seventy percent of the student athletes (112 out of 160 students; 54 males and 58 females; mean age 15) completed the survey, conducted in conjunction with Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Researchers then reviewed those students' school records pertaining to reported athletic injuries.
Hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of injury, according to the study results. In addition, the higher the grade level of the athlete, the greater the likelihood of injury -- 2.3 times greater for each additional grade in school. Gender, weeks of participating in sports per year, hours of participation per week, number of sports, strength training, private coaching and subjective assessments of "having fun in sports" were not significantly associated with injury.
"While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills, nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population," said study author Matthew Milewski, MD.
"When we started this study, we thought the amount of sports played, year-round play, and increased specialization in sports would be much more important for injury risk," said Dr. Milewski. Instead, "what we found is that the two most important facts were hours of sleep and grade in school."
The advanced age risk may reflect a cumulative risk for injury after playing three or four years at the high school level, Milewski said, and older athletes are bigger, faster and stronger.
Read more here

Study: Children With ADHD Find Medication Frees Them to Choose Between Right and Wrong

This study discusses how medicating a child with ADHD affects their decision making.

Children living with ADHD tend to feel they benefit from medication to treat the condition and do not think the medication turns them into 'robots', according to a report published October 17. In fact, they report that medication helps them to control their behaviour and make better decisions. The study, which gives a voice to the children themselves, provides valuable insights into their experiences and the stigma they face.

The ADHD VOICES -- Voices on Identity, Childhood, Ethics and Stimulants -- study has worked with 151 families in the UK and the USA to examine ethical and societal issues surrounding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), particularly the use of treatments such as methylphenidate (Ritalin). The project has been led by biomedical ethicist Dr Ilina Singh from King's College London and was funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Dr Singh and colleagues interviewed children and their families about ADHD, behaviour, medication and identity across four contexts: home, school, the doctor's office and peer groups.
The report is intended not only to highlight ethical and social issues surrounding ADHD but also to help families, doctors, teachers and the children themselves to understand from a child's perspective what it is like to live with ADHD.
"ADHD is a very emotive subject, which inspires passionate debate. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the condition, what causes it, and how to deal with children with ADHD, but the voices of these children are rarely listened to," explains Dr Singh. "Who better to tell us what ADHD is like and how medication affects them than the children themselves?"
Dr Singh points out the controversies that surround providing medication to children with ADHD, which some people argue turns the children into 'robots'. She believes that in many cases and with a correct diagnosis, treatment using stimulants is appropriate and beneficial, particularly if it is complemented by other interventions. The evidence from the children she interviewed suggests that they think medication improves their ability to make their own moral choices.
Glenn (age 10), from the USA, says: "If you're driving in a car, and there's two different ways, and you usually always go this way…and then one day you want to go the other way, but…the ADHD acts as a blocker, so you can't.
"[The medicine] opens the blocker so that you can go [the right] way. But you still have the choice of going the wrong way… It's harder [without medication], that's what's the truth. But it's not like [on medication] you're a robot."
Dr Singh also found that children often did not understand their condition or why they were receiving medication, and many children in the study reported that they had little meaningful contact with their doctors. After the initial evaluation, clinic visits tended to focus on side-effect checks, during which children were weighed and measured. Most children were not asked any questions during these visits.
Roger (age 13), from the UK, says: "I've only just started going to the ADHD clinic, but I haven't actually been to it properly. I've seen the doctor and he's talked about [ADHD] and I get weighed. But...they'll just say parts of what it is but then they'll stop, so they will only say some of it and then change the subject."
Dr Singh argues that children need to be better informed and able to discuss their condition. "Given the ethical concerns that arise from ADHD diagnosis and stimulant drug treatment, it is imperative that children are able to openly discuss the value of diagnosis and different treatments with a trusted professional."
The report concludes with a series of recommendations for how parents, doctors and teachers can help children cope with and better understand the condition, and begin to tackle the stigma that currently exists around it.
Professor Peter Hill, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, says: "We hope that the VOICES Study and the ADHD and Me animations will inspire people to think differently about ADHD, drug treatments and children with behavioural difficulties.
"Behaving differently around these children is the main challenge. We hope that the strategies we have outlined will help improve the interactions with these children and help improve their lives."
Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, comments: "It is refreshing to hear the voices of children included in the debate about ADHD.
"It is a very emotive subject and despite the fact that these children are at the centre of this debate, they are too often ignored. This report sends a clear message to doctors, teachers and parents about the importance of talking to children about their condition -- and more importantly, listening to what they have to say."
Read more here

6 tips to help parents of children with ADHD

This article contains six tips of a coaching approach for parents of children with ADHD.

Raising kids with ADD/ADHD can be stressful, to say the least. You try everything the “experts” tell you, but sometimes it still feels like you’re running on a treadmill. A coach-approach to parenting can take the pressure off.
Parents who learn to “coach” their kids with ADD/ADHD get out of survival mode and help their kids become more independent and successful.
There are six key strategic areas for parents to focus on when managing ADD/ADHD and literally hundreds of coaching skills to help parents help their kids. Here’s a specific tip for each strategy that will get you off that treadmill and help you rediscover the joy of parenting:
1. Educate yourself and your child about ADHD: This is a critical first step. Learn whatever you can and help your child identify the ways ADHD causes challenges at home and at school. Use this to empower your child to understand that he/she is not stupid and there is a reason for his/her challenges. If you’re not sure if something is caused by the ADD/ADHD or not, it probably has something to do with it!
2. Activate the brain: Since ADD/ADHD is based in the brain, it’s a logical step for improvement. Whether your child is taking medication or not, try exercise and/or protein before school — or before homework time — to improve focus and get better results.
3. Manage the behavior: People with ADD/ADHD often avoid structure, even though it’s what they need the most. Perhaps the most important structure is to help your child figure out his/her motivators. Identify good reasons that make sense to your child, not you, and you’ll see improved results.
4. Parent positively: Kids with ADD/ADHD make mistakes … a lot. They are constantly dropping, losing, breaking or forgetting things, and we correct them from sun up to sun down, without even realizing it. They need you to “catch ‘em being good." Let them know when they are successful, even if you think they “should” be doing it. For them, small victories mean a lot.
5. Establish appropriate expectations: On average, kids with ADD/ADHD are at least three years behind their peers in behavioral development. Keep that in mind when you set expectations for chores and following directions, especially in the evenings when they are tired. Yes, that may mean letting things slide. It helps to think of them as very mature 10-year-olds, instead of immature teenagers.
6. Take care of yourself: This may seem out of place, but it’s so important! Kids with ADD/ADHD need to learn to take care of themselves for future success more than their typical peers. When parents model self-care, their kids begin to learn to eat well, exercise, etc. On the other hand, when parents do not take care of themselves, they send a message to their kids that it’s not important. 
How you approach your child’s ADD/ADHD makes a big difference. Two final pieces of advice can have more of an impact than anything else: Believe in your kids and laugh a lot.
Kids with ADD/ADHD tend to be bright, creative, innovative and interesting. They respond well to positive encouragement and humor. When parents use coaching skills to manage the challenges and humor to downplay the mistakes, the results are positive for the entire family.

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Study: Treating mothers with ADHD may improve outcomes in their children

A new study looks at the effect of treating a mother with ADHD on the child and how the child's outcome is improved.

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers are conducting a study to determine if treating mothers with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder -- either with medication or parent training -- will help children at risk for ADHD.

"About 25 percent of the time, when a child has ADHD, there's a parent that has ADHD," said Mark Stein, UIC professor of pediatrics and psychiatry and principal investigator of the study. "We realize this is a weakness in our service delivery models, because often clinicians focus on just treating the child and ignore the fact that another family member has ADHD."
Two treatments are very effective for children with ADHD: behavior modification and stimulant medication. Both require "a very dedicated, organized person, which, if you have ADHD, that's going to be a challenge for you," said Stein, who noted that treatment is often administered by the mother, and that women are less likely to have their ADHD identified.
The Treating Mothers First Study will identify mothers of children between ages 4 and 8 with behavior problems who are at risk for ADHD -- and evaluate both the mother and child.
Mothers with ADHD will receive either a long-acting stimulant or behavioral training for eight weeks. Afterward, the mother, family and child will be re-evaluated and then receive treatment for another eight weeks with the same treatment or a combination of medication and parent training.
Parents with ADHD may have difficulty implementing consistent rules and consequences, and they may not respond to a child's appropriate or positive behavior, Stein said. As part of the study "we observe the parent trying to play with the child, trying to get the child to do things like homework or cleaning up their room," he said.
The goal is to determine if the need for stimulant medication in children can be delayed if the mother is treated first.
ADHD is often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety in women, and it often contributes to marital, parenting, sleep and medical problems, Stein said. Many health care providers have not been trained in diagnosing and treating adult ADHD.
"When a mom complains about how bad her life is, she's given a prescription for Prozac versus understanding that she's always had issues with inattention, distractibility, or impulsivity, and that's why she's having problems," Stein says.
"When you think of ADHD, you think of a 7-year-old boy, not a mom who says 'I am overwhelmed, easily distracted, and just can't get things done,'" he said.
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New Treatment May Help Soldiers, Athletes, Others Rebound from Traumatic Brain Injuries

A new treatment has been found for traumatic brain injury which may be helpful for soldiers, athletes, and others.

A potential new treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI), which affects thousands of soldiers, auto accident victims, athletes and others each year, has shown promise in laboratory research, scientists are reporting. TBI can occur in individuals who experience a violent blow to the head that makes the brain collide with the inside of the skull, a gunshot injury or exposure to a nearby explosion. The report on TBI, which currently cannot be treated and may result in permanent brain damage or death, appears in the journal ACS Nano.

Thomas Kent, James Tour and colleagues explain that TBI disrupts the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. With the brain so oxygen-needy -- accounting for only 2 percent of a person's weight, but claiming 20 percent of the body's oxygen supply -- even a mild injury, such as a concussion, can have serious consequences. Reduced blood flow and resuscitation result in a build-up of free-radicals, which can kill brain cells. Despite years of far-ranging efforts, no effective treatment has emerged for TBI. That's why the scientists tried a new approach, based on nanoparticles so small that 1000 would fit across the width of a human hair.
They describe development and successful laboratory tests of nanoparticles, called PEG-HCCs. In laboratory rats, the nanoparticles acted like antioxidants, rapidly restoring blood flow to the brain following resuscitation after TBI. "This finding is of major importance for improving patient health under clinically relevant conditions during resuscitative care, and it has direct implications for the current [TBI] war-fighter victims in the Afghanistan and Middle East theaters," they say.
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Different impacts of autism for men and women

This article discusses the differences in the impact of autism based on gender and how findings for one gender canot be assumed to be applicable for the other gender.

Men and women with autism spectrum conditions (ASC) may show subtle but significant differences in the cognitive functions impacted by the condition, according to new research published Oct 17 by Meng-Chuan Lai and colleagues from the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK in the open access journal PLOS ONE.
Though individuals with autism show sex-specific differences in serum biomarkers, genetics and brain anatomy, little is known about any sex-dependent differences in cognition caused by ASC. Following their previous report on behavioral sex differences in adults with ASC (also published in PLOS ONE, in this new study the researchers compared four aspects of cognition in adults with ASC to those with typical development. They found that perception of facial emotions was equally impaired across both sexes in individuals with ASC. In tasks involving attention to detail or dexterity requiring strategic thinking, women with ASC performed comparably to women without ASC, but men with ASC showed more difficulties than neurotypical men.
According to the authors, their results suggest that the severity with which certain cognitive functions are affected by autism may be dependent on sex, and has implications for assessment and intervention of ASC.
"What we know about males with ASC should not be assumed to generalize to females", said Dr. Lai. "Their similarities and differences need to be investigated systematically in autism research."
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012




4-8 PM

MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2013
4-8 PM

ONLY $5!

Sensory Friendly Day is an opportunity for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to explore the Children’s Museum of Houston in their own way and in their own time!
These exclusive events will:
•Provide a comfortable, protected and accepting environment.
•Allow parents to make connections with other families.
•Offer new tools and resources.

Doors will be closed to the general public.
There will be no music.
Sound reducing headphones will be available.
Fresh Café will be closed, so feel free to bring your own food if needed.
To register, please contact Lydia Dungus at (713) 535-7238.
For more information, please contact Will Rice at (713-)535-7286.

The Children’s Museum of Houston is committed to making our Museum accessible and interactive for all. Below you will find useful information for planning a more comfortable and enjoyable visit with your family.