Trump Administration proposes eliminating essential mental health benefits

The New York Times (1/4, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that on Thursday, the Trump Administration unveiled “sweeping new rules that could make it easier for small businesses to band together and create health insurance plans that would be exempt from many of the consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act.” According to the Labor Department, up to 11 million consumers “could find coverage under this proposal,” which would exempt small businesses from providing certain “‘essential health benefits’ like mental health care, emergency services, maternity and newborn care and prescription drugs.” The article says “consumer groups, state officials and Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans have strenuously opposed similar ideas for years.”

The Washington Post (1/4, Goldstein) reports that this proposal “would carry out the most significant part of an executive order that President Trump signed in October, directing the government to foster more alternative types of insurance.” Advocates maintain “the so-called association health plans would be less expensive, while critics – including the insurance industry – fear that they would promote substandard coverage and weaken the ACA’s already fragile insurance marketplaces.”

The Wall Street Journal (1/4, Armour, Subscription Publication) reports that this proposal is an attempt by the Trump Administration to roll back ACA provisions by using regulations. Critics warn that by excluding some types of coverage, the plans would be able to discriminate against certain groups, such as cancer patients.

Related Links:

— “Trump Proposes New Health Plan Options for Small Businesses,” ROBERT PEAR, New York Times, January 4, 2018.

Prevalence Of Autism Spectrum Disorders In The US May Have Reached A Plateau

In “Science Now,” the Los Angeles Times (1/2, Kaplan) reports investigators “have a new reason to believe that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the US has reached a plateau.” Their “evidence comes from the National Health Interview Survey, which polls American households about a variety of conditions.” In findings published Jan. 2 in a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “the research team found that 2.41% of US kids and teens had a form of autism between 2014 and 2016.” While the “prevalence rose slightly…from 2.24% in 2014 to 2.41% in 2015 and then 2.58% in 2016,” the rise was not “enough to be considered statistically significant.”

TIME (1/2, MacMillan) points out the study took into account “survey responses from a nationally representative sample of more than 30,000 children, ages 3 to 17, and their families.” The study did reveal variation in rates of autism by sub-groups, however. For example, “3.54% of boys were reported to have an autism spectrum disorder, compared to 1.22% of girls.” What’s more, “prevalence was 1.78% in Hispanic children, 2.36% in black children and 2.71% in white children.”

Related Links:

— “Autism spectrum disorders appear to have stabilized among U.S. kids and teens,” Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2018.

Many US Colleges Do Not Track Suicides Among Students

The AP (1/2, Binkley) reports almost half of the US’ largest public universities to do not keep records of suicides among their student populations. The AP says that in a recent inquiry, it found that among the 100 largest public universities in the US, “43 currently track suicides, including 27 that have consistently done so since 2007.” Most others, however, “said they don’t track suicides or could provide police reports for only a few cases known among campus administrators.” The piece adds that most data on suicides comes from the CDC, “which does not specifically track college suicides.”

Related Links:

— “Most big public colleges don’t track suicides, AP finds,” COLLIN BINKLEY, Associated Press, January 2, 2018.

Smoking Cigarettes During Pregnancy Associated With Increased Risk Of AD/HD in Child

Reuters (12/29) reported that women who smoke during pregnancy may increase their children’s risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to a review of medical studies published in Pediatrics. The review found that mothers who did smoke while pregnant “had an overall 60 percent higher risk of having a child with AD/HD compared to women who didn’t smoke,” with even higher rates for heavy smokers.

Related Links:

— “Cigarette smoking during pregnancy linked to ADHD risk in offspring,” Cheryl Pleitzman Weinstock, , December 29, 2017.

Teens exposed to traumatic events may have higher risk for headaches, migraines

Reuters (1/2, Crist) reports that according to a study published online in the journal Neurology, “teens exposed to traumatic or terror events may have a higher risk for weekly and daily migraines.” The study followed 213 survivors of a 2011 terrorist attack. The researchers examined “recurrent migraines and tension-type headaches” among the group, ages 13 to 20, and “found the terror attack survivors reported many recurring tension-type headaches and migraines.” Additionally, they noted that “female survivors reported three times more weekly or daily headaches than similar young women in the general population in Norway.”

Related Links:

— “Traumatic events increase headaches and migraines,” Carolyn Crist, Reuters, January 2, 2018.

Use of non-cigarette tobacco products raises odds teens try cigarettes

CNBC (1/2, LaVito) reports that a study published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that “any use of e-cigarettes, hookah, non-cigarette combustible tobacco or smokeless tobacco in one year doubled the chance that youths smoked cigarettes the following year.” The study’s results “were adjusted for factors like sociodemographic and environmental smoking risk.” Researchers add that using “multiple products further increased the odds.”

Related Links:

— “Teens who try tobacco products that aren’t cigarettes are twice as likely to try cigs a year later,” Angelica LaVito, CNBC, January 2, 2018.

Persistent cannabis use linked to violence in mental health

Healio (10/11, Oldt) reports, “Patients recently discharged from acute psychiatric care were more likely to exhibit violent behaviors if they reported continued cannabis use,” researchers concluded after analyzing “data from the MacArthur Risk Assessment Study for 1,136 psychiatric patients recently discharged.” The findings were published online Sept. 21 in Frontiers in Psychiatry: Forensic Psychiatry.

Related Links:

— “Persistent cannabis use linked to violence in mental health,” Dugré JR, et al., Healio, October 11, 2017.

Talk Therapy May Relieve Menopause-Related Sleep Problems And Depression

HealthDay (10/11, Preidt) reports, “Talk therapy may help relieve menopause-related sleep problems and depression, [according to] a new study” that was scheduled to be presented at the North American Menopause Society’s annual meeting. Patients who underwent “four cognitive behavioral therapy sessions targeting insomnia and hot flashes in a small group of menopausal women…had improvements in sleep and depression, and the results were similar regardless of depression severity.” According to HealthDay, “a small group” of women took part in the study.

Related Links:

— “Talk Therapy May Help Menopause Woes,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, October 11, 2017.

Treatment Responses To Citalopram May Be Comparable Among Younger And Older Adults With MDD

Healio (10/10, Oldt) reports, “Treatment responses to citalopram were comparable among older and younger adults with major depressive disorder [MDD],” researchers concluded after analyzing data on some “2,280 nonpsychotic adults, of whom 106 were older adults, with DSM-4-TR-defined MDD.” The findings were published online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Related Links:

— “Citalopram similarly effective for depression in older, younger adults,” Steiner AJ, et al., Healio, October 10, 2017.

Older Adults Face Challenges In Receiving Mental Healthcare Services.

U.S. News & World Report (10/11) reports many older adults struggle to receive mental healthcare services because of factors such as being “hindered by modern culture perpetuating the stigmas and misconceptions of ageism and mental health issues; social isolation; high health care costs; and a dwindling supply of geriatric caregivers for America’s growing older population.” The article says HHS’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Health Resources and Services Administration are working to expand access to mental healthcare at the primary care setting.

Related Links:

— “A Look Into Older Adults’ State of Mind,” Katelyn Newman, U.S. News & World Report, October 11, 2017.