Early ADHD diagnosis a risk factor for depression

ADHD and Mood disordersBy Julie Steenhuysen

Children who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at an early age are at greater risk of depression and suicide than other teens and parents need to take the condition seriously, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

They said 18 percent of children in a study who were diagnosed with ADHD between ages 4 to 6 were depressed as adolescents – about 10 times higher than adolescents without ADHD.

And about 5 percent of children with an early ADHD diagnosis thought about committing suicide at least once, and were twice as likely as other children to have tried it.

“This is another pretty powerful demonstration that parents should not disregard ADHD in early childhood,” said Benjamin Lahey of the University of Chicago, who worked on the study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

ADHD is one of the most common child mental disorders and is estimated to affect around 3 percent to 5 percent of children globally.

Children with ADHD are excessively restless, impulsive and easily distracted, and often have difficulties at home and in school. There is no cure, but the symptoms can be kept in check by a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.

For the study, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, followed 123 children diagnosed with ADHD at age 4 to 6 for up to 14 years, until they reached 18 to 20.

They compared these children with 119 children from similar neighborhoods and schools. The children were checked every year for the first four years, then during years 6 through 9 and 12 through 14.

“This is a study that … shows that children diagnosed at 4 to 6 years of age are at increased risk for depression and to some extent suicide during late childhood and adolescence,” Lahey said in a telephone interview.

The researchers did not study children diagnosed at an older age.

Lahey said suicide attempts were relatively rare, noting that more than 80 percent of children with ADHD did not try to commit suicide and no one in this study committed suicide.

SOMETHING TO TAKE SERIOUSLY

Even so, the disease is something to take seriously.

“We’ve known for a long time that children with ADHD are at risk for all kinds of problems such as accidental injuries,” Lahey said. Children with ADHD are also more likely than others to smoke and abuse drugs.

“At least some segments of the public tend to regard ADHD as something too minor to take seriously. There is a sense to some that it is psychiatriaztion of normal exuberance,” he said.

Last week, British researchers discovered the first direct evidence that ADHD is a genetic disorder, a finding they said should help dispel the myths that ADHD is caused by bad parenting or high-sugar diets.

“I think the best advice we can give is that they take it seriously and seek help from a mental health professional early on so they can help the child have the best possible outcome.”

Millions of people take ADHD drugs including Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Vyvanse and Strattera. Global sales of ADHD drugs were estimated at around $4 billion dollars in 2009.

SOURCE: link.reuters.com/xyb96p Archives of General Psychiatry, October 2010.

TV Ratings: A Guide for Parents

While family is the most important influence in a child’s life, media in all its forms, including TV, computers, and other screens, are not far behind. Because media can influence how children think, feel, and behave, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to help their children form healthy media use habits early on.

TV Parental Guidelines

The TV Parental Guidelines (see chart below) rating system was created to help parents choose programs that are suitable for children. The ratings are usually included in local TV listings. Remember that ratings are not used for news programs, which may not be suitable for young children.

All TVs 13 inches or larger made in the United States after 2000 are required by federal law to have a V-chip. The V-chip allows parents to block programs based on ratings or times or to block specific shows.

For more information, go to the FCC Parents’ Place Web site athttp://reboot.fcc.gov/parents.

Going From Mom, To Moment Master: Choosing a Camera

Moms and camerasby Angie of “More Sugar Than Spice”

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a MOPS mommy through and through. Four years ago when I walked into my first MOPS group I was in a very dark place emotionally. I had started staying home with my daughter six months prior, and let’s just say it was not going as I had fantasized it would for all of those years I’d been working in the corporate world. After my first meeting, I cried.

Not because it was bad, but because it made me realize just how alone I had been. I was living in complete isolation, and the fact that I didn’t need to be, was now right there in my face.

Fast forward, and we are getting ready to kick off my fourth year in MOPS, and this is my third year serving in leadership. My hope is that it will reach a point where no mommy feels the way that I felt that morning.

All of that to say that my time in leadership has helped me not only grow as a mommy, but as a photographer, and it eventually led to launching More Sugar Than Spice Photography.

This month, I am writing a multi-post series on my blogGoing From Mom, To Moment Master, which I would like to dedicate to the many moms I have served, and will continue to serve this year. My prayer is this series will empower you to do something for your family that only you can do—preserve the little moments that typically only a mommy gets to see. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Let’s start at the beginning, Choosing A Camera

After looking at photographers rates, have you decided hiring a professional just doesn’t fit into your do-it-yourself budget? Do you want to document every day happenings with your precious little ones before they are no longer little (and precious)? Is your camera so old that the expense to have the film processed, combined with the disappointing result, makes you rely on others to capture special days? If any of those things sound familiar to you, it may be time to budget for a new camera. Don’t worry, even small budgets can secure your perfect camera…when you shop smart.

To get started, ask yourself these questions:

Who will be taking the majority of the pictures?

If the answer is you, then you need to be the one to go and purchase the camera. Do not put this on the holiday shopping list for your husband, unless you know exactly which one you want!

That sounds silly, but when I was making my camera purchase, I had narrowed it down to a Canon or Nikon and I was having a hard time deciding between the two. Off to the camera store I went, where reps from both companies admitted their products were pretty comparable for what I needed, and they agreed the best thing for me to do was pick it up and see which one felt better in my hands.

The same is true with a point and shoot camera. These days the cameras keep getting smaller and smaller. This is great for portability, but I have a hard time trying to press a button the size of a pencil tip when I have a baby on my hip and a 20lb bag on my shoulder.

When it comes to camera brands, a name is just a name. For the most part, the major players (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus and Kodak) all have a camera that compares with their counterparts in each category. There are slight differences among them, but for the most part, you can’t go wrong with the name brands you’ve heard of in the camera industry as long as you get a camera geared towards your needs.

Bottom line: The main user of the camera needs to make the trip to the store and pick up as many cameras as possible before making a final decision. Don’t just buy the camera your neighbor has because she says it’s great…because it probably is great—for her. You need to find a camera that is great for you, and that requires you shop around.

What will the camera be used for?

If you are like me, my favorite photos are ones I’ve taken of my kids…and I can’t have too many! We’ll talk about how to store all of those images later in this series, but for now let’s stay focused on the camera.

When I am on the prowl for new equipment, I want something that can move FAST, like they do. Be sure and check out the specs on shutter lag because nothing drives me crazier than pushing the button, and having the kids run off before the camera does its job.

If you are more of a landscape mama, perhaps the shutter lag isn’t as important to you, but a good zoom or a good macro feature (or lens on a DSLR) will work wonders. You may also need to budget for a tripod, but we’ll talk accessories later in the series.

When you are checking out these camera stats, avoid the store specs if possible. Those are provided by the manufacturer…which is great, but I prefer to look at what real users are actually getting out of the camera. www.dpreview.com and www.steves-digicams.com are two of my faves for the low-down, although there are many sites out there that can provide great information.

Be sure and check out what kind of batteries the camera takes. There is something to be said about being able to stop at the corner convenience store for standard sized batteries on the way to the school play, as opposed to having to find a place to plug in once you arrive. This is something that often gets overlooked, but can really make (or break) the mama-camera relationship over time.

Whether you are a soccer mom, or you just have to capture every single nose crinkle your child makes (like me!), a burst mode can come in very handy. This means you can press the button once, and the camera will take several sequential pictures. This is a very fun feature for making things like storyboards and scrapbooks, and most cameras have some version of this feature.

I absolutely love my DSLR. I know that is the right camera for my business. However, I have to say that there are moments where I wish that I could just throw it in my pocket or purse and get out of capturing the moment, and back into living the moment! With DSLR prices dropping, it’s tempting to run out and buy one. Just know when you do, you’re going to need to also purchase some new luggage, because they are large, heavy and require a little more tender loving care than point and shoot camera.

Are mega-pixels mega-confusing? They don’t have to be. While this will be one of the first stats thrown at you, keep in mind most mamas get by just fine with about 7 megapixels. Anything close to or over 15 is far more than most mamas need. There’s a good chance you won’t notice the difference in your typical print sizes. You will however notice how fast you fill up your computer with those large image files, so try to avoid thinking the more mega-pixels you have, the better.

Bottom line: The best camera on the market (or the most you can afford) may not be the best fit for you. Just because a DSLR is in your price range, you should not run out and purchase one tomorrow. Think about what you are hoping to capture, and make sure your equipment is in line with that goal.

How will the camera be used?

No matter how you plan to use your camera, keep in mind your camera will at some point be abused. If at all possible, spring for the titanium case instead of plastic. When you catch your kids using your camera as a hockey puck on the hardwood floor, you won’t be sorry.

Even now, when I want to capture a quick picture, I will use the full auto mode on my camera. This feature takes most of the guess work out of taking pictures. However, you can skimp on some of the other features (like flash lighting) if you purchase a camera that can go at least partially into a manual mode. That way you can force your camera into capturing the shots you’d like, even when in less than perfect conditions.

Bottom line: Size and toughness matters. Going manual can be intimidating, but some manual features will help you preserve those moments that are normally hard to capture due to poor light.

No matter what camera you purchase, I cannot stress enough how important it is to read the manual. I know that sounds daunting, especially when you have little ‘helping hands’, but nothing says you can’t read it while waiting in the carpool line or while walking on the treadmill. The fact is, no matter how great of a camera you purchase, if you don’t know how to use it, you may be missing out on something that can take you from mom to moment master.

Already own a camera? Check out my blog for the next article in this series.

New Parents in Need of Sleep

New Parents need sleepby Dr. Thorpy and Dr. Harris, New York Times

For most parents, having a newborn in the house can wreak havoc on sleep schedules. Generally, there aren’t any long-term health effects. I personally see it as an evolutionary thing that’s built in to help us raise newborns, though there are really no studies on this. New parents can prepare by understanding, and accepting, that the first few months will most likely consist of disrupted nighttime sleep. If you follow the guidelines below, the disrupted sleep will likely last for only a few months, which is rather short-term in the scheme of things.

During the first six months of life, babies sleep soundly in two- to four-hour periods. Newborns are not born with a circadian cycle that makes them stay awake during the day and sleep at night. Rather, sleep is spaced evenly in chunks throughout the 24-hour day. Bottle-fed newborns tend to sleep for slightly longer periods, generally three to four hours, whereas breast-fed babies tend to sleep in one- to three-hour cycles.

After 6 months of age, infants begin to sleep for longer periods, and they generally sleep through the night (as defined by a six-hour stretch). From 6 months to 9 months, however, many infants, even those who were fantastic sleepers when they were younger, begin to exhibit episodes of night wakings. These night wakings are generally due to developmental and physiological milestones. Instead of sleeping, babies often find it more interesting to practice newly acquired skills like crawling or sitting up. About 30 percent to 50 percent of infants at this age awaken at least once per night for a short while, usually for about one to five minutes at a time, with 25 percent of 1-year-olds continuing to do so.

Since newborns sleep upward of 16 hours per day in small chunks, parents often find it difficult to get a full seven or eight hours of sleep at night. Parents need to work their sleep schedules around the newborn’s patterns. In essence, sleep when the baby sleeps. We realize that this is easier said than done, but making some changes — and enlisting the help of others, if possible — can help new parents adjust as best as they can to a fragmented sleep pattern.

Creativity and flexibility are important here. For example, some parents prefer to break up child care into “early night” and “late night” shifts, whereas others swap off nights. Once a baby is 6 weeks old, parents can start to have a standard bedtime routine set at a desired time, though it might migrate earlier or later depending on the baby’s schedule. Keep in mind that it is unlikely that your baby will be sleeping through the night just yet. These routines help to reinforce that it is bedtime and help the child ease into sleep.

Keep the routine uncomplicated, simple and always in the direction toward the crib — for example, bath, followed by bottle in a nursery chair, then reading in the chair and then crib. In addition, try not to have baby fall asleep at the bottle; instead, put the newborn to bed “drowsy but awake.” This helps the child learn to self-soothe. Becoming attuned to baby’s sleep signs, like rubbing the eyes, yawning or fussing, can be helpful. Pushing the bedtime later will only cause the baby to become overtired and sleep worse. Gradually moving the bedtime earlier can actually help lengthen the sleep period.

Remember to always put your baby to sleep on his or her back (the phrase “back to sleep” is a helpful reminder). Do not swaddle in many clothes or wrap the baby in a blanket; government officials also recently advised against usinginfant sleep positioners. Make it possible for the baby to be able to move around in the crib. On hot summer days, dehydration is a major cause of child discomfort, so be aware that babies lose water more easily than adults.

From 4 to 6 months of age, babies start to sleep through the night. They require few or no night feedings. Babies who are “self-soothers” can easily fall back asleep on their own, but some babies require the presence of a parent, food or object (such as a pacifier) to return to sleep.

If a baby continues to need your help to return to sleep, a number of methods have been developed to teach a baby to self-soothe. A common misconception is that babies will outgrow this phase. Studies have shown that 80 percent of children who had sleep problems as infants continue to have difficulties three years later.

There are many treatments available to help babies become self-soothers, including the “cry it out” Ferberizing method and “no cry” solutions. Choosing which treatment to use is a very personal decision, and one that some feel very passionate about. Many of these treatments can be helpful, but consistency is critical for success. A number of helpful books are available, including“Sleeping Through the Night,” by Jodi Mindell; “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child,” by Dr. Marc Weissbluth; and “The No-cry Sleep Solution,” by Elizabeth Pantley.

As a baby begins to sleep through the night, many parents notice that they have trouble doing the same. They have adjusted to sleeping in short chunks, and returning to pre-baby sleep patterns takes time. Those parents who had trouble sleeping before the baby arrived often have more difficulties with this transition. Try to avoid checking in on your baby whenever you awaken. If you are needed, your baby will let you know.

If Mom or Dad continues to suffer from insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy or pharmacological treatments may be necessary. We recommend that new parents first start with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, as it can be quite effective without the addition of medication; see our earlier post, “Overcoming Insomnia Without Drugs.”

While poor sleep and fatigue are believed to be the norm for new parents, postpartum depression may be an underlying factor and can worsen sleep. Studies have shown that women with a prenatal history of depression may be more affected by the multitude of changes that happen after childbirth, including psychological, hormonal and immunological shifts. It is important that new mothers let their doctors know of any symptoms of depression, including sad mood, tearfulness, feelings of hopelessness or guilt, insomnia, changes in appetite, extreme loss of energy, loss of interest in things and thoughts about death, suicide or harm to others.

If a new parent or baby continues to have troubles with sleep, pediatric sleep specialists or behavioral sleep medicine specialists are available to help. The American Board of Sleep Medicine has a list of certified behavioral sleep medicine specialists on its Web site.

Adding zinc, prebiotics to oral rehydration speeds diarrhea recovery

Gut healthChildren with acute diarrhea recover more quickly when treated with a hypotonic oral rehydration solution containing zinc and prebiotics than those given standard oral rehydration, an Italian group reports in The Journal of Pediatrics online September 9, 2010.

For parents, this meant less time off work — 1.49 vs. 0.39 days in the two groups, respectively.

“No adverse events related to the use of the ORS were observed in the study groups,” the researchers report.

Reference:
Efficacy of a New Hypotonic Oral Rehydration Solution Containing Zinc and Prebiotics in the Treatment of Childhood Acute Diarrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial
J Pediatr 2010.