Pregnant? Here’s more to worry about

By Julie Deardorff

Anxiety During PregnancyPregnancy may be the mother of all guilt trips. But that anxiety doesn’t necessarily end with the birth of a healthy child. Researchers are finding that in utero exposures could be linked with behavioral or emotional problems in young children and increasedcancer risk and other problems later in life.

Here’s a look at some of the suspects:

(For background on how a mother’s pregnancy can program her child for disease, read my story, “Risk for disease partially set in womb.“)

Bisphenol A: Exposure to the chemical BPA in the womb is associated with behavior and emotional problems in young girls, new research published in the journal Pediatrics suggests. BPA, a compound present in food packages, dental sealants and some receipts made with thermal paper, is so common that nearly all Americans have traces of it in their bodies.

Full story at Chicago Tribune

Mental health: the straight and narrow?

Nursing Times

Mental HospitalWhat happens to mentally ill ex-offenders when they are released back into a community that often views them with suspicion and fear? Community psychiatric nurse Ruth White talks about keeping patients on the straight and narrow and the importance of understanding their view of reality.

Mental illness makes many of us feel uncomfortable and the resulting discrimination runs deep, despite the plethora of laws and right-on noise to the contrary. This reaction can be extreme when mentally ill offenders are released and it’s hardly surprising, given the media attention that often accompanies high-profile murder cases involving mental illness and their cumulative influence on the public psyche.

It is also highlighting misleading; reoffending rates amongst those suffering from a mental illness are low compared to ex-prisoners and the prospect of becoming a victim is highly unlikely.

It is hard to gauge what effect this backdrop of prejudice has on patients re-entering society on top of their daily struggle to manage conditions, such as bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. Freedom brings its own challenges and offenders spend an average of five years in a medium security unit before being released. They often face an uphill struggle, including the day-to-day challenge of managing their condition, resisting the temptations of returning to their old life, public stigma, isolation and finding employment.

Full story at Nursing Times

Fleeing from domestic violence

By Elaine Attard

Domestic ViolenceThe introduction of the Domestic Violence Act on 28 February 2006 was a day of hope for people working with the victims of domestic violence, but those victims still face the prospect of finding themselves homeless when they reach the point where they can take the abuse no longer, instead of the abuser being ordered out of the family home.

According to Agenzija Appogg, the Domestic Violence Act provides for a protection order to prohibit or restrict access by the accused, for a period not exceeding six months or until final judgment, to premises in which the injured person or any other individual specified in the order, lives, works or frequents, even if the accused has a legal interest in those premises.

Normally, the perpetrator is evicted from the home following an application filed by the victim’s lawyer. The court normally accedes to such a request when it considers that the perpetrator is a threat to his/her family and/or that, as a result of his/her actions, his/her family would suffer if they were to be the ones to leave the matrimonial home.

Full story at Independent Online

Fatty foods called addictive as cocaine

By Robert Langreth and Duane D. Stanford

Fatty Food Addictive Like CocaineCupcakes may be addictive, just like cocaine.

A growing body of medical research at leading universities and government laboratories suggests that processed foods and sugary drinks made by the likes of PepsiCo and Kraft Foods aren’t simply unhealthy. They can hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to cocaine, nicotine and other drugs.

“The data is so overwhelming the field has to accept it,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain.”

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists’ radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Full story at The Day

Penn State Scandal: How Parents Can Talk to Kids About Sex Abuse

By Bonnie Rochman

Talk with Kids About Sex AbuseAs Penn State reels from a sex-abuse scandal that led Wednesday to the ousters of Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in major college football, and university president Graham Spanier, parents are left wondering whom to trust.

We’re pondering what to say to our children about the X-rated details and how to say it. We’re uneasy because every day, we cart our kids to soccer practice, to Little League, to gymnastics, leaving them in the hands of adults we often don’t know very well but assume have our children’s best interests at heart. In theory, they do.

PHOTOS: Riots Rock Penn State After Firing of Paterno

In a report on Paterno’s dismissal on Wednesday, TIME’s Sean Gregory plucked a salient quote from Paterno By The Book, the coach’s 1989 autobiography. “Coaches have the same obligations as all teachers,” wrote Paterno, 84. “Except that we may have more moral and life-shaping influence over our players than anyone else outside of their families.”

Full story at Time Healthland