Health and Fitness

The Brain's Developing Pain Regulatory System Can Be Altered By Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

Prenatal alcohol exposure is widely known to impair brain development in exposed offspring. Rodent studies have shown that developmental deficits in newborns related to altered levels of a brain chemical called serotonin (5-HT), leading to subsequent alterations in patterns of neonatal acute pain responses and/or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) stress reactivity. New findings show a "blunted response" to an acutely painful event - a heel lance - in alcohol-exposed human newborns, indicating that prenatal alcohol exposure may alter the brain's developing pain regulatory system. Results will be published in the April 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "Timing is everything, " said Tim F. Oberlander, a professor in the Division of Developmental Pediatrics at the BC Children's Hospital, the Child and Family Research Institute (CFRI), and the University of British Columbia. "The idea to look at pain responses in newborns with prenatal alcohol exposure came from two places, " he said.

Fluctuating Blood Glucose Levels May Affect Decision Making

Would you choose to receive a small amount of money today or a larger sum next month? We know that it is worth it to wait longer for a larger reward, but sometimes the temptation for the smaller, immediate reward becomes too great and we simply cannot resist it. Selecting the immediate reward is known as "future discounting" and often suggests a lack of self-control. Studies have indicated that there may be a link between blood glucose levels (our body's energy) and thinking. For example, making difficult choices uses up cognitive resources (or brain power) and these resources can be restored by increasing blood glucose. Psychological scientists X.T. Wang and Robert D. Dvorak from the University of South Dakota investigated how blood glucose levels impact the way we think about present and future rewards. Volunteers answered a series of questions asking if they would prefer to receive a certain amount of money tomorrow or a larger amount of money at a later date. They responded to seven of these questions before and after drinking either a regular soda (containing sugar) or a diet soda (containing the artificial sweetener aspartame).

New Research Gives Insight To The Frequency Of 'Doctor Shopping' Occurring Within Prescription Monitoring Programs

Research presented at the American Academy of Pain Medicine's 26th Annual Meeting provides early published data analyzing information gathered from California's prescription monitoring program, known as the Controlled Substances Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES). The analysis found a two-fold increase in the likelihood of individuals receiving opioids from multiple providers or "doctor shopping" when they were also being simultaneously prescribed a single additional class of a controlled substances, such as benzodiazepines or amphetamines. When there was more than one additional drug class involved, there was a 13-fold increase for individuals seeing multiple providers. Over 34 states currently have prescription monitoring programs in place in an effort to address prescription drug abuse, addiction and diversion. One goal of the PMPs is to prevent individuals from "doctor shopping" where they obtain multiple prescriptions from multiple healthcare providers, which they subsequently fill at multiple pharmacies.

Heavy Night At Home Or A Tipple On The Town: Does Where We Drink Affect Our Attitude To Alcohol? UK

Leading experts from across Britain's 'binge-drinking' debate will meet at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) on Wednesday 10 February to discuss whether we need to recognise the places where people drink as a significant influence on their behaviour. Drinking spaces and places: who drinks alcohol, where and why?, the latest in a series of Environment and Society Forums at the RGS-IBG, looks behind the headlines to ask if policy-makers are using the right data, and authorities are being set the right targets, to tackle the social impacts of drinking to excess. Bringing together speakers from public health, criminology, business, and non-government organisations, it will examine the realities of the UK's alcohol 'crisis', highlighting the latest research into private and public drinking practices, including: - The marked variations in the UK's regional drinking patterns based on findings from the most recent National Health Survey 2008 (Dr Nicola Shelton, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College, London and Elizabeth Fuller, National Centre for Social Research).

Study Finds Self-Control To Be Contagious

Before patting yourself on the back for resisting that cookie or kicking yourself for giving in to temptation, look around. A new University of Georgia study has revealed that self-control - or the lack thereof - is contagious. In a just-published series of studies involving hundreds of volunteers, researchers have found that watching or even thinking about someone with good self-control makes others more likely exert self-control. The researchers found that the opposite holds, too, so that people with bad self-control influence others negatively. The effect is so powerful, in fact, that seeing the name of someone with good or bad self-control flashing on a screen for just 10 milliseconds changed the behavior of volunteers. "The take home message of this study is that picking social influences that are positive can improve your self-control, " said lead author Michelle vanDellen, a visiting assistant professor in the UGA department of psychology. "And by exhibiting self-control, you're helping others around you do the same.

Listen To Your Heart When It Comes To Substance Abuse And Mental Health

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) would like to remind Americans that substance abuse and mental health problems affect those with heart disease. In fact, nearly a million Americans experiencing a serious psychological disorder in the past year also suffered from heart disease. Similarly more than a quarter of a million Americans who had a substance abuse disorder in the past year also experienced heart disease. So it's important for the health of your heart as well as your overall wellbeing that you seek help for any substance abuse or mental health problems you may be facing. By getting treatment you can lead a longer and happier life. To access information on the mental health treatment services in your area go here. For substance use treatment providers in your area you can go here. Source Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)

Gene Variation Makes Alcoholism Less Likely In Some Survivors Of Sexual Abuse

Exposure to severe stress early in life increases the risk of alcohol and drug addiction. Yet surprisingly, some adults sexually abused as children - and therefore at high risk for alcohol problems - carry gene variants that protect them from heavy drinking and its effects, according to researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The researchers, from the university's Midwest Alcoholism Research Center, say the finding could aid the development of therapies for alcohol dependence by offering suggestions for targeted treatments based on genetic traits and history of exposure to severe stressors. Scientists estimate that about half the risk for alcoholism is encoded in a person's genes. The rest comes from environmental factors, such as age at first drink and exposure to extreme stress. Other research has suggested that when the environmental risk factors occur during key periods of brain development, genes and environment working together can increase the likelihood an individual will become alcohol dependent.

The Prevention Of Psychiatric Patient Suicides

Between 1997 and 2006, 38% of out-of-clinic suicides by mental health patients were carried out by people absent without leave from the hospital. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry suggest that measures to improve the ward environment or prevent patients from leaving psychiatric wards without staff agreement could avoid up to 50 suicide deaths every year. Isabelle Hunt, from the University of Manchester, UK, worked with a team of researchers to investigate suicides in England and Wales over a ten-year period. There were 1, 851 cases of suicide by current psychiatric in-patients, and 70% occurred off the ward. Four hundred and sixty-nine of these patients died after going absent without leave. Hunt said, "Compared to individuals who died when they were off the ward with staff agreement, those who absconded were more likely to be young, unemployed and homeless. Schizophrenia was the most common diagnosis, and rates of previous violence and substance misuse were high.

Temporary Assistance For Families Funds Available For Families Needing Short Term Mental Health And Substance Use Treatment Services

In the face of growing need for mental health and substance abuse treatment, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are notifying states about how Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds can be used to help families in their communities in need of short term mental health or substance use treatment services. The grant notification includes an explanation of how resources under the TANF Emergency Fund - a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - can be used to support such services. The TANF block grant provides states and tribes federal funds and wide flexibility to develop time-limited assistance programs, employment services for parents, and a broad array of specialized services - including mental health and substance abuse services - for struggling families in their communities. For example, a jurisdiction can use federal TANF funds to provide appropriate short-term counseling services such as mental health services.

ACE Launches Multimedia Campaign To Support And The Prevention Of Inhalant Abuse

The Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE) is launching a new public service announcement campaign to support its website, and its ongoing efforts to reach out to parents and children about inhalant abuse. The PSA(s) feature the story of Allison Fogarty, whose episode of the A&E Television Series "Intervention" remains one of the most watched and controversial in the program's history. With the help of her family, her mother Nancy and her sister Sue, Allison was able to overcome a life-threatening addiction to inhalants. When producers for "Intervention: In-Depth" heard about Allison's involvement in educating others, they decided to feature the PSA's production in the February 1 episode of the series. Her mother Nancy says, "I firmly believe God saved Allison from this horrible addiction for a reason; to educate, to encourage and to spread hope! " "The data is frightening. There are over 1, 400 common household products that kids are able to abuse and get 'high' and this can cause brain damage and even death, " explains Kelly Semrau, President of the Alliance for Consumer Education.

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