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Latest News Around the Web

Mother and child bond may affect teen obesity

The Los Angeles Times (12/27, Stein) “Booster Shots” blog reported, “The quality of a mother’s relationship with her toddler could affect that child’s weight in adolescence,” according to a study published in the January 2012 issue of the journal Pediatrics. The study, which included some 977 children, “was based on observing how mothers interacted with their children when they were 15, 24 and 36 months old, then following up with those kids when they turned 15 to check levels of obesity.” The researchers looked at “two aspects of the relationship: attachment security…and maternal sensitivity.”

“Teens are more likely to be obese if they had a poor emotional relationship with their mother when they were toddlers, according to a new study,” HealthDay (12/26, Preidt) reported. “The analysis showed that the children’s risk of obesity at age 15 was highest among those who had the lowest-quality emotional relationship with their mothers when they were toddlers, the Ohio State University researchers said.” The study found that “more than one-quarter of the toddlers who had the lowest-quality relationships with their mothers were obese as teens, compared with 13 percent of those who had closer bonds with their mothers in their early years.”

Medscape (12/27, Hitt) reported, “After adjusting for sex and birth weight, the risk for adolescent obesity was found to be 2.45 (95% confidence interval, 1.49 – 4.04) times higher in those with the worst relationship (score, ≥3) compared with those considered to have the highest-quality relationship (score, 0).” In addition, the researchers found that “compared with insecure attachment, low maternal sensitivity was more strongly associated with obesity.” Study “researchers suggest that maternal sensitivity could protect against obesity by ‘improving children’s ability to modulate their physiologic and behavioral responses to stress.'” WebMD (12/26, Mann) andReuters (12/28, Joelving) also covered the story.

IQ May Improve With More Schooling In Children.

USA Today (12/28, Reinberg) reports, “Children who have more schooling may see their IQ improve,” according to a study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Using data on men born between 1950 and 1958, the researchers looked at the level of schooling by age 30” and “IQ scores of the men when they were 19” and found that “comparing IQ scores before and after the education reform, the average increased by 0.6 points, which correlated with an increase in IQ of 3.7 points for an addition year of schooling,” a study author noted.

The results “suggest that education as late as the middle teenage years may have a sizeable effect on IQ, but do not challenge the well-documented importance of early childhood experiences on cognitive development,” according to the researchers.

US ED Physicians Encounter More Patients In Severe Mental Crisis.

Reuters (12/25, Steenhuysen, Mincer) reported that across the US, emergency department (ED) physicians are encountering more patients in severe mental crisis. Severe budget cuts to state psychiatric hospitals and local mental-health programs, coupled with high unemployment and loss of health insurance, are forcing more people with psychosis or severe depression to seek emergency treatment.

In North Carolina, Bret Nicks, MD, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, pointed out that state psychiatric hospital inpatient capacity has been cut by 50% since 2005. Meanwhile, Stephen Anderson, MD, FACEP, head of the Washington State chapter of ACEP, noted that Washington has 33% fewer inpatient psychiatric beds than in 2001.

Emergency department physicians as well as psychiatrists are troubled by the trend, because patients in psychiatric crisis cannot receive the ongoing and specialized care they need in an emergency setting.

New York Senator Says Caffeine Inhaler Is A Dangerous “Club Drug” To Teens

Bloomberg News (12/23, Edney) reports AeroShot Pure Energy, a caffeine inhaler, “dispensed from canisters that fit in jean pockets and are allowed in carry-on luggage is a ‘club drug’ that may be dangerous to teenagers,” Democrat Charles Schumer said. The senator “wrote Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg today asking her to review the safety and legality of the AeroShot Pure Energy caffeine inhaler, a yellow and gray canister of caffeine powder and B vitamins resembling a tube of lipstick,” which “is set to hit store shelves in New York and Boston next month.” Schumer says if the caffeine inhaler is “taken with alcohol, the mixture may have effects similar to caffeinated alcohol drinks tied to hospitalizations in the past.” According to a FDA spokesman’s email, the agency will review information related to the product.

“US Sen. Charles E. Schumer fired off a letter to the Food and Drug Administration today, urging it to ask the maker of a lipstick-sized inhalable caffeine canister set to hit store shelves in Boston and New York on New Year’s Day to back up its claims that the product is safe,” the Boston Herald (12/23, Szaniszlo) reports. “According to the Cambridge-based company’s website, ‘AeroShot’ delivers an airborne shot of caffeine powder,” which “does not enter the lungs, but rather is dissolved in the mouth and swallowed,” the company’s materials claim.

The AP (12/23) points out that “its manufacturer, Breathable Foods, says each AeroShot contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee plus B vitamins” and “is safe but is not intended for children under 12.”

Chronic School Absenteeism Associated With Mental Health Problems

HealthDay (12/23, Dallas) reports, “Children who miss school often are more likely to have symptoms of mental health problems as teens,” according to a study published in the journal Child Development. For the study, researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles “compiled information on 17,000 students in grades 1 through 12.”

They discovered that “kids in second through eighth grades with mental health problems, such as antisocial behavior or depression, missed more school days than kids without those issues.” In addition, “middle and high school students who missed a lot of school were…more likely to be later diagnosed with mental health issues.”

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