US study uses phone app to screen for autism

Science Daily |June 2018 | Mobile app for autism screening yields useful data

A new US study that uses a smartphone app to screen young children for signs of autism has found the application produces reliable data. It was also accessible for children and praised by caregivers (via Science Daily).


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During the year-long  there were over 10000 downloads of the app; parents completed more than 5000 surveys and uploaded 4441 videos. These data were collected, 88 per cent of the videos yielding useful data.  The app uses video footage of the adolescents filmed while watching films and designed to identify patterns of emotion and attention, autism risk factors, on the device.  The videos are then analysed by behavioural coding software which tracks the child’s response and quantifies their emotions and attention.

A member of the research team Geraldine Dawson, Director of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, remarked “This demonstrates the feasibility of this approach.

“Many caregivers were willing to participate, the data were high quality and the video analysis algorithms produced results consistent with the scoring we produce in our autism program here at Duke.”

The full news article is available from Science Daily 
The study has now been published in the open access journal npj Digital Medicine. It can be accessed through Nature 

Full reference:

Egger, H. L. et al .| 2018| Automatic emotion and attention analysis of young children at home: a ResearchKit autism feasibility study |npj Digital Medicine| Vol. 1 |DOI: 10.1038/s41746-018-0024-6

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For anxiety a single intervention is not enough

Science Daily |May 2018 | For anxiety, a single intervention is not enough 

A study that tracked over 300 young people aged between 10-25 with a diagnosis of separation, social or general anxiety disorder has shown that irrespective of the treatment they receive, only 1 in 5 will stay well over the longer- term 
via Science Daily).

The full news article is available here 

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The article has been published in  Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

To report anxiety outcomes from the multisite Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multi-modal Extended Long-term Study (CAMELS). Rates of stable anxiety remission (defined rigorously as the absence of all DSM-IV TR anxiety disorders across all follow-up years) and predictors of anxiety remission across a 4-year period, beginning 4 to 12 years after randomization to 12 weeks of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), their combination, or pill placebo were examined. Examined predictors of remission included acute treatment response, treatment assignment, baseline child and family variables, and interim negative life events.

Method

Data were from 319 youths (age range 10.9−25.2 years; mean age 17.12 years) originally diagnosed with separation, social, and/or generalized anxiety disorders and enrolled in the multi-site Child/Adolescent Anxiety Multimodal Study (CAMS). Participants were assessed annually by independent evaluators using the age-appropriate version of the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule and completed questionnaires (e.g., about family functioning, life events, and mental health service use).

Results

Almost 22% of youth were in stable remission, 30% were chronically ill, and 48% were relapsers. Acute treatment responders were less likely to be in the chronically ill group (odds ratio = 2.73; confidence interval = 1.14−6.54; p < .02); treatment type was not associated with remission status across the follow-up. Several variables (e.g., male gender) predicted stable remission from anxiety disorders.

Conclusion

Findings suggest that acute positive response to anxiety treatment may reduce risk for chronic anxiety disability; identified predictors can help tailor treatments to youth at greatest risk for chronic illness.

Full reference:

Ginsburg, G. et al |2018| Results From the Child/Adolescent Anxiety Extended Long-Term Study (CAMELS): Primary Anxiety Outcomes | Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry | 10.1016/j.jaac.2018.03.017

New study at York to help children overcome severe phobias uses new techniques

University of York | May 2018 | How our research could help children overcome severe phobias

Researchers at the University of York are testing a new form of therapy based of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques. The new approach, called One Session Treatment, can be delivered during one three- hour session.  This means that the therapy sessions will be less time-consuming and disruptive for children and potentially a more efficient way of treating children.

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Prior to the sessions there will be  a pre-assessment of one hour’s duration, after this the child will experience exposure therapy, where the patient is gradually exposed to whatever they are afraid of. The child’s confidence continues to be developed at home- with them continuing to confront the thing they are scared of. The children will be followed up six months later to assess the effectiveness of the therapy.

The trial is recruiting over 280 children aged 7 to 16-years-old across a number of NHS trusts and other services in the North of England, Norfolk and Suffolk. It is run in conjunction with Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield.

The study will address a gap in the literature which Professor Barry Wright lead author of the study says OST is not currently widely used which he attributes to there being no randomised controlled trials  in the UK in children. (University of York)

The full story is available from the University of York New study at York to help children overcome severe phobias uses new techniques

Young people with hay fever are more likely to experience anxiety, finds study

Science DailyMay 2018| Adolescents with hay fever have higher rates of anxiety and depression

A new review of studies that examined the impact of hayfever on adolescents (10-17 years of age) found that adolescents with hay fever had higher rates of anxiety and depression, and a lower resistance to stress. The adolescents also exhibited more hostility, impulsivity and changed their minds often.

The lead author of the study Dr. Blaiss said, “allergy symptoms can be different in adolescents than in adults or children. Lack of sleep or poor sleep are both huge issues for adolescents, and it can be made worse by the symptoms of hay fever with or without eye allergies. Poor sleep can have a negative impact on school attendance, performance and academic achievement.” (via Science Daily).
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The full news item is available from Science Daily

Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

Royal Society for Public Health | May 2018| #StatusOfMind  Social media and Young people’s mental health and wellbeing

This report from Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) explores the positive and negative impact of social media on young people aged between 16-24, and their mental health and wellbeing. It also includes a league table of five social media platforms which have been ranked in order of their net impact on young people’s health and wellbeing by young people.

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Image source: .rsph.org.u

The RSPH calls for

  1. The introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media
  2. Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated
  3. NHS England to apply the Information Standard Principles to health information published via social media
  4. Safe social media use to be taught during PSHE education in school
  5.  Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts and other data, and discreetly signpost to support
  6. Youth-workers and other professionals who engage with young people to have a digital (including social) media component in their training
  7. More research to be carried out into the effects of social media on young people’s mental health

The report can be downloaded here 

Does a lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep affect parenting?

May 2018 | Sleep better, parent better: Study shows link between maternal sleep and permissive parenting | Science Daily

A US study that looked at maternal sleep and parenting has found that for mothers who fell asleep easily or who slept for long periods their adolescent children reported lower levels of permissive parenting. By contrast, mothers  were not receiving enough sleep, or receiving poor quality sleep, it had an effect on their levels of permissiveness with their adolescents. The researchers studied over 200 mothers and their adolescent children (average age 15). The mothers wore wearable technology that monitored their sleep quality, the young people completed questionnaires about their perception of their mothers’ parenting via Science Daily .

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The full news article from Science Daily can be accessed here 

Abstract

Utilizing a multi‐method design, the present study examined the association between maternal sleep, assessed via actigraphy and self‐reports, and permissive parenting (e.g. lax, inconsistent discipline) during adolescence, as well as the extent to which this association differed by mothers’ race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The sample was comprised of 234 mothers (M age = 41.76 years, SD = 6.25; 67% European‐American, 31% African‐American, 2% other race/ethnicities) and 237 adolescents (113 boys, 124 girls; M age = 15.80 years, SD = 0.80; 66% European‐American, 34% African‐American). Mothers’ sleep duration (actual sleep minutes) and quality (sleep efficiency, latency, long wake episodes) were assessed using actigraphy. Mothers also reported on their sleep problems and adolescents reported on mothers’ permissive parenting behaviours. Results revealed that actigraphy‐based longer sleep duration and shorter sleep latency were associated with lower levels of permissive parenting. Further, mothers’ race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status moderated the association between actigraphy‐based sleep quality (i.e. sleep efficiency, long wake episodes) and permissive parenting. Specifically, a negative association between sleep efficiency and permissive parenting was evident only for African‐American mothers. In addition, a positive association between more frequent night wakings and permissive parenting was evident only for mothers from lower socioeconomic status households. The findings highlight the benefits of longer and higher‐quality sleep for reducing the risk of permissive parenting, especially among ethnic minority mothers and mothers from lower socioeconomic status households.

Full reference:

Tu, K.M. Elmore‐Staton,  L, Buckhalt, J.A., El‐Sheikh, M. | The link between maternal sleep and permissive parenting during late adolescence |  J Sleep Res2018;e12676. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12676

The article has been published in the Journal of Sleep Research
It can be requested by Rotherham NHS staff here

 

University of Huddersfield researchers: Children with autism do engage in imaginary play

University of Huddersfield | May 2018 | Children with Autism are able to create imaginary friends 

A new study demonstrates that children with Austistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are able to create imaginary friends. This challenges previous research that suggests children with autism are unable to engage in imaginary play (via Science Daily).

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The researchers used over 200 questionnaires completed by UK and US parents of children diagnosed with ASD and parents of children with typical development (TD). Although the findings show that children with a diagnosis of ASD were less likely to create an imaginary friend (16.2 per cent) compared to 42 per cent of their TD peers; they were older when they begin engaging in this kind of play, and were also more likely to play with a   “personified object” such as a stuffed toy or doll. The researchers argue that there is no difference in the quality of the play the children engage in.

According to Dr Paige Davis, of the University of Huddersfield and the lead author of the study: “The finding that children diagnosed with ASD even spontaneously create such imaginary companions refutes existing beliefs that they are not imagining in the same way as typically developing children.”

The press release is available from the University of Huddersfield 

The article is published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, it can be requested by Rotherham NHS staff here