Maternal Antidepressant Use Associated With Earlier Birth, Neonate Seizures.

Reuters (5/31, Norton) reports that according to a study published online May 2 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, babies born to mothers on antidepressants may be born a few days earlier or may even have seizures shortly after being born. After examining data on some 228,876 babies born in Tennessee, researchers found that second-trimester maternal antidepressant use was associated with infants being born up to five days before their due date. Maternal third-trimester use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants was associated with neonate seizures. Because depression itself is a serious problem, the study authors recommended that women who are on medications for depression speak to their physicians about whether they should discontinue taking antidepressants during pregnancy.

Related Links:

— “More questions on antidepressants during pregnancy,”Amy Norton, Reuters, May 30, 2012.

Teenage Binge Drinking Behind Skyrocketing ED Visits In New York City.

The New York Daily News (5/29, Blau) reports that in New York City, “dangerously drunken revelers, whose numbers have nearly doubled citywide in the last five years, are now the fifth-leading cause of emergency room visits at public hospitals.” In fact, “teenage binge drinking is a key culprit behind the number of ER visits, which have skyrocketed citywide from 7,958 in 2007 to 15,620 in 2011, city records show.” Binge drinking by teenagers in New York City “has become such a crisis that the Health Department launched a $200,000 ad campaign in 2011 warning of the perils of alcohol abuse.”

Related Links:

— “Drunken teenage revelers now fifth-leading cause of emergency room visits at city’s public hospitals,”Reuven Blau, New York Daily News, May 28, 2012.

Study Examines Blood-Alcohol Levels In Suicide Victims.

On its website, Fox News (5/25, Crees) reported, “Researchers at Portland State University analyzed the blood-alcohol levels in nearly 58,000 suicide cases across 16 states and found that 22 percent of victims were drunk when they died.” Specifically, 24 “percent of men and 17 percent of women who committed suicide had blood-alcohol levels of at least 0.08 g/dL, the legal standard for intoxication,” according to a study published online May 24 in the journal BMJ Injury Prevention. The study “was funded with a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a branch of the National Institutes of Health.”

Related Links:

— “Study: Nearly a quarter of US suicide victims intoxicated at time of death,”Alex Crees, Fox News, May 25, 2012.

Experts: Mental Health A “Major 21st-Century Public Health Challenge.”

In the Huffington Post (5/25), Dr. Susan Blumenthal, a former Assistant Surgeon General, and Deepa Kannappan, a Stanford University health policy intern at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, examined in “The Blog” how America is handling mental health challenges, “a major 21st-century public health challenge.” The two recommended that public policy focus on understanding specific risk factors for various groups, improving education and reducing stigma, and “providing parity for health insurance coverage for mental illness.”

Related Links:

— “Overcoming Stigma and Improving Mental Health in America,”Susan Blumenthal, Huffington Post, May 25, 2012.

Group Cautions On Sensory-Based Therapy For Kids With Autism.

HealthDay (5/29, Goodwin) reports, “Sensory therapies using brushes, swings and other play equipment are increasingly used by occupational therapists to treat children with developmental issues, such as autism, but” the American Academy of Pediatrics “says there isn’t much evidence that such therapies actually work.” Nevertheless, “the group isn’t completely discounting the potential of sensory therapies — it’s a ripe area for research, it noted” in a policy statement appearing online May 28 in the journal Pediatrics. Reuters(5/28, Pittman) also covered the story.

Related Links:

— “Doubt Cast on Usefulness of ‘Sensory’ Therapies for Autism,”Jenifer Goodwin, HealthDay, May 28, 2012.

Study: Kids Who Self-Harm Need Follow-Up Mental Healthcare.

HealthDay (5/26, Thompson) reported that according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “six of every 10 adolescents who went to an emergency room for treatment after harming themselves were released without receiving a mental health assessment or any follow-up mental health care.” The study’s lead author cautioned, “Most young people who self-harm suffer from some underlying psychological disorder.” He added, “It’s critical to conduct a mental health assessment in addition to the evaluation of their physical health if we’re to get to the root of their problems.”

Related Links:

— “More Mental Health Care Urged for Kids Who Self-Harm,”Dennis Thompson, HealthDay, May 25, 2012.

NIMH: 56% Of US School Children With Autism Taking Prescribed Mood Medications.

In continuing coverage, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (5/25, Flinn) reports, “More than half of school-age children with autism in the US take mood-altering drugs as doctors increasingly target the broad range of psychiatric symptoms tied to the ailment,” according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health. The survey “found that 56 percent of those age six to 17 with autism, were on one or more drugs normally given for disorders such as anxiety, depression, psychosis or hyperactivity.” In addition, the survey “found about a third of children received stimulants, a quarter anti-anxiety or mood-stabilizers, and 20 percent anti-depressants. Others got sleep, anti-psychotic or anti-seizure” medicines.

Related Links:

— “More Than Half Autistic Kids Prescribed Mood Medicines,”Ryan Flinn, Bloomberg Business Week, May 24, 2012.

Opioids Most Abused Prescription Medication.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (5/18, Smith) reports that even “though other families of prescription drugs also are involved in drug abuse, opioids are the biggest problem, both” on the local and national level. Last year, “some 210 million prescriptions were written last year for opioid medications, Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told CBS ’60 Minutes.'” The problem of prescription medication abuse threatens even society’s smallest members. “In 2009, there were more than 13,000 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome after being exposed to opioids in utero, a three-fold increase since 2000, according to an article just published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association.”

Related Links:

— “Abuse of opioid drugs hits all-time high,”Pohla Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 2012.

Report: Mental Illness Ranks As Leading Hospitalization Cause For Active-Duty Troops.

The National Journal /NextGov (Subscription Publication) reports that “mental illness ranks as the leading cause of hospitalization for active-duty troops, according to a report published by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center AFHSC) in the April issue of its Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, released on Monday. Mental-health disorders stood out as the leading cause of hospitalization of active-duty service members in 2007, 2009, and 2011, the report noted.” In addition, AFHSC “reported that troops seeking help for mental health problems ranked third in outpatient visits in all treatment categories, behind unspecified ‘other’ conditions — which included routine physicals, immunizations, and predeployment assessments — and musculoskeletal injuries during the same time period.”

Army Review To Examine PTSD Diagnoses Going Back To 2001. In continuing coverage, the AP (5/18, Baldor) reports that on Wednesday, US Army leaders “said…they are launching a sweeping, independent review of how the service evaluates soldiers with possible post-traumatic stress disorder following recent complaints that some PTSD diagnoses” at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state “were improperly overturned.” The Army “said it will review the diagnoses at all of its medical facilities going back to October 2001. And top Army leaders said they will develop a plan to correct any decisions or policies necessary to make sure that soldiers are receiving the care and treatment they deserve.”

Related Links:

— “Mental Illness Is the Leading Cause of Hospitalization for Active-Duty Troops,” Bob Brewin, NationalJournal, May 17, 2012.