ADHD diagnoses rise to 11% of kids

The number of children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continues to climb, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There has been a 42% increase in the number of reported cases of ADHD since 2003, according to a CDC-led study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Today, 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 – 11% of kids in this age group – have received an ADHD diagnosis, according to the study, which is based on a survey of parents. That’s 2 million more children than in 2007.

The number of children using medications to treat ADHD is also rising. Since the last survey taken in 2007, there has been a 28% increase in children taking drugs to manage the disorder. More than 3.5 million children in the 4 to 17 age group, or 6%, are taking ADHD medications, the survey found.

These data are part of the CDC’s National Survey of Children’s Health, a national cross-sectional, randomized telephone survey. The survey is conducted every four years, and questions about ADHD diagnosis have been included since 2003. The latest data are from interviews conducted via telephone from February 2011 and June 2012, with 95,677 interviews completed and an overall response rate of 23%.

Full story of ADHD diagnosis rising at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Breastfeeding Possible Deterrent to Autism

In an article appearing in Medical Hypotheses on September 20, a New York-based physician-researcher from the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine has called for the testing of umbilical cord blood for levels of a growth protein that could help predict an infant’s propensity to later develop autism.

Based on an analysis of findings in prior published studies, Touro researcher Gary Steinman, MD, PhD, proposes that depressed levels of a protein called insulin-like growth factor (IGF) could potentially serve as a biomarker that could anticipate autism occurrence.

His research points to numerous prior studies that powerfully link IGF with a number of growth and neural functions. Dr. Steinman — who has also conducted extensive research into fertility and twinning — further points to breastfeeding as a relatively abundant source of the protein. He says that IGF delivered via breastfeeding would compensate for any inborn deficiency of the growth factor in newborns.

If the IGF-autism hypothesis is validated by further study, Dr. Steinman says, an increase in the duration of breastfeeding could come to be associated with a decreased incidence of autism.

Full story of breastfeeding and autism at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Kids of less-educated moms may have noisier brains

A mother’s level of education has strong implications for a child’s development. Northwestern University researchers show in a new study that low maternal education is linked to a noisier nervous system in children, which could affect their learning.

“You really can think of it as static on your radio that then will get in the way of hearing the announcer’s voice,” says Nina Kraus, senior author of the study and researcher at the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is part of a larger initiative working with children in public high schools in inner-city Chicago. The adolescents are tracked from ninth to 12th grade. An additional group of children in the gang-reduction zones of Los Angeles are also being tracked.

Kraus and colleagues are more broadly looking at how music experience, through classroom group-based musical experience, could offset certain negative effects of poverty.  But first, they wanted to see what biological effects poverty may have on the adolescents’ brain. In this particular study, 66 children – a small sample – in Chicago participated.

Full story of noisier brains at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Concussion concerns may lead to fewer boys playing football

As more people learn about how football’s hard hits to the head can lead to brain trauma, fewer parents may be willing to let their kids out on the field. That’s according to a new poll released Wednesday by HBO Real Sports and Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

One in three Americans say knowing about the damage that concussions can cause would make them less likely to allow their sons to play football, the poll found.

Keith Strudler, director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication, who helped oversee the phone survey of more than 1,200 adults in July, said this could be alarming news for the future of football. “Historically, youth football has fueled the NFL,” said Strudler. “Parents’ concern about the safety of the game could jeopardize the future of the sport.”

Strudler added: “You know, what we are measuring are attitudes.  Attitudes towards football.  The interesting thing is how much these attitudes will turn into behaviors.  We found that 14% of people feel less comfortable watching football because of this knowledge.  What’s going to be interesting is to watch in the future…if that 14% will shut off their televisions.”

Full story of boys football and concussions at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Antipsychotics linked to diabetes in kids

Antipsychotics have already been linked to type II diabetes in adults. Now a new study shows a connection between these medications and the chronic medical condition in kids as well.

Researchers report in the journal JAMA Psychiatry that children taking antipsychotics have three times the risk of developing type II diabetes, compared to children taking other psychotropic medications (drugs prescribed to treat mental disorders).

The study authors were surprised by the magnitude of the results. But the findings make sense, given that the side effects of antipsychotics include weight gain and insulin resistance, said Wayne A. Ray, study co-author and researcher in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. However, the study shows an association, not a cause-effect relationship.

It’s not uncommon for an adult taking antipsychotic medications to gain 20 to 40 pounds in a relatively short period of time, Ray said. Similar weight gain effects have been observed in children, proportionate to their body sizes.

Full story of antipsychotics and diabetes at CNN

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education