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Latest News Around the Web

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.

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