Prescription drug abuse has become a hot topic as of late, with a string of fatalities and hospital admissions caused by this alarming issue. Worse, some medical professionals are not aware that they are issuing prescriptions for excessively strong medications.
According to ABC Australia, doctors in the country were able to issue more than 100,000 prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs to children in 2013. Queensland, one of the many states in Australia, pegged the highest rate in anti-psychotic drug prescriptions at 645 per 100,000 people. NSW and Victoria followed suit.
While some child cases were under the supervision of consenting parents, other children given overprescribed medicines were in foster homes. Majority of the anti-psychotic drugs were designed to treat psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, but a growing trend is turning to these medicines to address autism and aggression in kids.
According to the news report, medical professionals are not united in the issue on prescribing anti-psychotic medication in children. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists allow this kind of medicine to be prescribed to kids for legitimate reasons, with psychosis being one of them. “Sometimes we do see kids who have aggressive and behaviour problems who’ve had a range of many other treatments and sometimes they do benefit from anti-psychotic treatment,” said Dr. Nick Kowalenko, college chair for child and adolescent psychiatry. However, Kowalenko emphasized that the drugs are not absolute substitutes to a “comprehensive treatment approach”.
Risperidone is the medicine most often prescribed by doctors to treat psychosis in Australia, with over 28,000 prescriptions issued in 2013 alone.
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Mass shootings in schools may continue to pose a threat on teenagers, but some other deep-seated dangers have been linked to carrying a gun.
According to a joint study by researchers of the New York University Langone Medical Center and Columbia University, teenagers who carry a firearm are more likely to engage in drug abuse and violence. The study looked into historical data from a national survey on teen behavior from 2001 to 2011, and analyzed any trend linkages between gun possession and personal behavior.
Results of the study showed that teenagers who carried a weapon were more likely to use heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other illicit drugs. The percentage of the respondents who said “yes” to carrying a gun in school in the past month also have a higher tendency to engage in a fight at school or drank alcohol inside the school premises.
Study co-author Dr. Sonali Rajan of Columbia University shared the importance of their study on teen intervention. “Our work takes [the recommendations] one step further and says we need to place an emphasis on the school environment, it’s not just about addressing mental health — but from a public health and prevention standpoint… cultivating from a young age school environments where students feel respected by their peers and teachers and vice versa,” Rajan said in a news release.
Meanwhile, co-author Dr. Kelly Ruggles of the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Medical Center added that “the point really is that we need to look at the comprehensive whole child, all the different things making up how kids are feeling in their environment.”
According to a new study, teenagers may suffer from brain damage during later years when they engage in binge drinking now.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst found a link between teen binge drinking and reduction in brain protection. The researchers looked into a substance called myelin, a material that improves electrical impulse transfers across the nervous system. Loss of myelin has been linked to impairment of brain functioning as well as neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases.
The study involved testing laboratory mice that were given access to free-flowing sweetened alcohol during the adolescent stage, with a control group receiving sweetened water only. Results showed that as the test rats grew, the group that drank alcohol were found to have lower myelin levels in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.
Study co-author Dr. Heather Richardson said that the results may confirm previous studies about the effects of teen binge drinking on overall brain processing. “Our study provides novel data demonstrating that alcohol drinking early in adolescence causes lasting myelin deficits in the prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest that alcohol may negatively affect brain development in humans and have long-term consequences on areas of the brain that are important for controlling impulses and making decisions,” Richardson said in a news release.
In addition to this, rats exposed to alcohol were found to have poorer memory. This could translate to memory and learning impairment in people who engage in excessive alcohol consumption.
The study authors are hopeful that their discovery could be used to investigate the importance of myelin in preventing schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome and other psychiatric disorders.
Errors are inevitable, but what will you do if the error involves giving your child the wrong medicine?
A study from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital revealed that while parents and caregivers have the best of intentions, about 63,000 children below six years old have received the wrong medication from 2002 to 2012.
Dr. Huiyun Xiang, who works at the hospital’s Center for Pediatric Trauma Research, said that the figures in their study are still conservative. “The numbers we report still underestimate the true magnitude of these incidents since these are just cases reported to national poison centers,” said Xiang in a news release.
According to the study released via the online journal Pediatrics, the medication error happen in areas where children usually stay: the school, a friend’s house, or the child’s own home. Many of the reported cases involved unintentional ingestion of painkillers, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Meanwhile, the error usually happens because the child receives the drug multiple times as a result of the caregiver’s error or memory failure. Other reasons include following an incorrect dosage or giving the child a wrong medicine for the ailment.
In addition, Xiang said that younger kids prove to be the most vulnerable in these cases. “We found that younger children are more apt to experience error than older children, with children under age one accounting for 25 percent of incidents,” Xiang added.
Marijuana-infused candy definitely takes the cake as far as “trick or treat” is concerned.
Although the state of Colorado has pretty much embraced marijuana in its culture, the Denver Police Department recently issued a warning to parents about marijuana edibles disguised as candies for Halloween trick or treat. The police department released a video warning about Haloween marijuana edibles via YouTube:
Responsible owners of marijuana dispensaries support this campaign by Denver Police, stating the near-impossibility of identifying a marijuana candy from a regular sweet treat. “Once that candy dries, there’s really no way to tell the difference between candy that’s infused and candy that’s not infused,” according to marijuana retail owner Patrick Johnson as published in Time. “There’s really no way for a child or a parent or anybody, even an expert in the field, to tell you whether or not a product is infused or not.”
Teenage pregnancy is a very difficult issue for the young moms, and it’s easy for them to succumb to depression and drug use. The good news is that with early and persistent intervention, the pregnant teen’s likelihood to be depressed and drug-dependent becomes lower.
A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that pregnant teenagers who are exposed to in-home educational sessions are less likely to fall into behavioral issues, use illegal drugs, or become depressed. According to a news release, the study involved more than 300 American Indian pregnant teenagers who were assigned to either of two treatments: the standard care that includes medical checkups and childcare, or the same care but with an additional program of in-house sessions under the Family Spirit intervention. The study ran until the children reached age 3.
The teenage moms who underwent the Family Spirit program were found to have better dispositions than those who received standard care. In addition, their children were also observed to have better future behavioral patterns.
Dr. Allison Barlow, who is the lead author of the study and works at the school’s Center for American Indian Health, shared that the default mode of treatment for teenage pregnancy cases is inclined towards medical techniques, but the study proved that proper intervention works just as well, if not better. “Now the burden is in multi-generational behavioral health problems, the substance abuse, depression and domestic violence that are transferred from parents to children. This intervention can help us break that cycle of despair,” Barlow said.