The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm

  • Children of Deployed Military Have Increased Rates of Psychiatric Hospitalization
    May 20, 2011 Los Angeles Times

    Children of deployed military personnel are more likely to experience psychiatric illness severe enough to warrant hospitalization, according to a new study done by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Compared to children of non-deployed service members, kids with deployed parents face a 10% increase in the rate of psychiatric hospitalization. Dr. Jeffrey Millegan, the psychiatrist who led the study, notes that the increased risk "is most likely related to the obvious family disruption when a caregiver leaves for a period of time. Deployment does cause increased mental health issues in the civilian parent and the parent that deploys. It's quite clear that it can have influence on the child."

    Until now little research had been done on children of military personnel. Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein of the American Psychiatric Association notes that future research will likely evaluate how children are affected by repeated deployments.

    Know More:  What Makes an Event Traumatic for a Child?

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  • “To ‘dis’ is to disrespect,” Says Trudie Styler
    May 19, 2011 Momformation

    Trudie Styler gave an inspiring interview to Denise Albert from Moms in the City shortly before taking the stage at the 2011 Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture. Styler spoke passionately against the labels given to children with learning differences, describing how minimizing they can feel to a child who just wants to fit in. In particular Styler focused on the "dis's" (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, and dyspraxia) and said that when kids are diagnosed with one of these negative-sounding differences they often "feel like they are marginalized and that they are in a corner and they don't know what to do.  They see the world in a very different way." In the interview Styler told Albert that she avoids using labels around her own children, and instead explains that "We are all different and yet we are all the same. We are all human beings and we want to get along. And being 'normal' isn't necessarily something to aspire to."

    Know More:  Trudie Styler on ADHD and Dyslexia: Don't Give Up, Do Reach Out

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  • Michigan Autism Center to Close
    May 16, 2011 Wall Street Journal

    The University of Michigan's Autism and Communication Disorders Center will be closing this fall. The current director of the center, Dr. Catherine Lord, is moving to New York to head the new Institute for Brain Development, which is slated to open next year. The Institute for Brain Development is a joint effort between Columbia University Medical Center, Weill Cornell Medical College and New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Lord says that a psychologist and some researchers and staff from Michigan will be joining her at the new institute. Some federally funded research programs in Michigan will continue on after the transition.

    Know More:  Breakthroughs in Treatment for Autism

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  • Researchers Home In on DNA for Depression
    May 16, 2011 Science Daily

    Two groups of scientists working separately have identified the same single DNA region of about 90 genes and linked it to major depressive disorder. The findings are all the more impressive because of the immediate replication of the results. "We were working independently and not collaborating on any level," says a Washington University professor and lead investigator. "But as we looked for ways to replicate our findings, the group in London contacted us to say, 'We have the same linkage peak, and it's significant.'" Though the researchers are hesitant to speculate as to a single gene or group of genes involved, the region implicated is on a part of chromosome 3 that includes the metabotropic glutamate receptor 7 gene, or GRM7, which has been tied to a risk of depression in the past.

    Know More: Behavioral Therapies That Are Effective in Treating Depression

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  • James Durbin voted off 'American Idol'
    May 13, 2011 Santa Cruz Sentinel

    Talented rocker and long-time favorite James Durbin was unexpectedly voted off American Idol last night. Although his elimination came as a shock—Durbin consistently wowed judges and was never ranked in the bottom—Durbin gave an optimistic response to the upset. "I did so much stuff that's never been done on this show before ... In my eyes, in my mind, I did what I came here to do, and that was to give metal a chance." Of course, Durbin gave more than just metal a chance, with performances that many in the autism and Tourette's communities are calling inspirational. MTV News reported that they are being flooded with supportive notes from Durbin fans, and it seems likely that the rocker and role model won't be leaving the public eye anytime soon.

    Know More:  Can James Durbin Defeat Stigma?

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  • When Do Kids Form Their First Memories?
    May 12, 2011 Web MD

    Popular thinking used to be that children don't have the cognitive ability or language skills to develop memories before their third or fourth birthdays. But now new research proves that children do form memories at younger ages, although the memories tend to fade or be replaced with newer memories over time. Researchers have also found that cultural differences play a role in how memory works. On average the earliest memories of Chinese children occur a year later than Canadian and American children. Dr. Robyn Fivush from Emory University explains that Western children likely have stronger early memories because their dialogues with parents are more autobiographical. "It is more appropriate to talk about events in the context of the group."

    Know More:  Developmental Milestones

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  • 'Overgeneral' Memories May Be LInked to Depression
    May 11, 2011 New York Times

    The Times offers a fascinating look at the concept of "overgeneral" memory, or memory that blurs specific experiences into vague categories—"my brother is always mean to me" instead of "my brother refused to play Monopoly with me last Sunday"— and whether it pressages depression. Sometimes it's a response to traumatic experience, and actually facilitates recovery, by dampening the emotional impact of specific memories. But a number of studies, including one at Oxford, are focusing on whether a tendency to overgeneralize contributes to depression, as a  "vulnerability factor for unhelpful reactions when things go wrong in life,” as one Oxford researcher puts it. Specific memories can play an important role in dispelling a dark mood, he adds. “If you’re unhappy and you want to be happy, it’s helpful to have memories that you can navigate through to come up with specific solutions. It’s like a safety net.”

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  • Research Uncovers Raised Rate of Autism
    May 9, 2011 New York Times

    In a landmark autism study, researchers have discovered that 1 in 38 kids screened in a South Korea city are on the autism spectrum. Experts are shocked by the rate, which is two and a half times the current estimated rate of one child in 110 being on the spectrum. However, those interpreting the study caution that this big leap does not mean that autism is any more prevalent than before. Rather, the study in South Korea was more comprehensive because it screened every child in the community. Previous studies gathered data from records of children already identified with an autism spectrum disorder, leaving out children of parents who never sought a diagnosis. "If we had only looked at the high-probability group, we would have come up with about 0.7 percent, which is in line with C.D.C. statistics for the U.S.," said Roy RIchard Grinker, the study's senior author.

    Know More:  Why Combine Autism and Asperger's?

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  • Bin Laden Dies, America Celebrates, a Parent Grapples
    May 4, 2011 Parent Dish

    The beginning of Tom Henderson's blog post about the death of Osama bin Laden is venomous and somewhat shocking, but the emotions he describes are familiar to many Americans. Henderson writes that his son still wants revenge:

    He thinks Americans should kick and spit on Osama bin Laden's dead body before it is hung upside down on meat hooks at Ground Zero—mirroring what Italians did with the body of Benito Mussolini at Piazza Loreto almost exactly 66 years ago.

    Henderson sympathizes with his boy's views—albeit a little queasily. It isn't hard to understand why children, particularly those who grew up in the shadow of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, would feel strongly about bin Laden, even after his death. Young children tend to view the world through black and white lenses which cast people as either heroes or villains, and their perspective was bolstered by adult displays of feverish celebration that happened everywhere from the White House lawn to college campuses across America (not to mention on Facebook).

    But when Henderson asked his son how he'd feel if he was also talking about the desecration of bin Laden's body, his son said that he would hate it. "That's not you," the boy explained. His response made sense to Henderson, who reasoned, "Like children, we want those we trust to mete out justice to be above such bitter motivations. We expect better things from our parents ... and our nation."

    It's reassuring, then, to know that the government has decided not to release gory photographs of bin Laden's dead body. "We don't trot this stuff out as trophies," the president said. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, confirmed with a familiar response, saying it's "not who we are."

    Know More:  Talking to Kids About Osama Bin Laden

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  • Duerson’s Brain Trauma Confirmed
    May 3, 2011 New York TImes

    Researchers have confirmed that former NFL star Dave Duerson suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease that has been linked to concussions. Dr. Ann McKee, the neuropathologist who examined Duerson's brain, says she found indisputable evidence of CTE in Duerson's brain tissue samples, and "no evidence of any other disorder."

    Duerson killed himself in February, at the age of 50, after complaining of headaches, blurred vision, memory loss, poor impulse control, and uncharacteristically abusive behavior toward loved ones—all telltale signs of repetitive brain trauma. In a note to family members Duerson requested that his brain be given to the NFL's brain bank for study. 

    In an interview DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the players association, said Duerson's diagnosis of CTE "makes it abundantly clear what the cost of football is for the men who played and the families. It seems to me that any decision or course of action that doesn't recognize that as the truth is not only perpetuating a lie, but doing a disservice to what Dave feared and what he wanted to result from the donation of his brain to science."

    Know More:  What Parents Should Know About Concussions 

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