Health
Thursday, January 07, 2016
 
Doctor's Perspective

Looking at the link between Autism and antidepressants

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
A recent study found a link between autism and the use of antidepressants during pregnancy. The news report suggested that this link was a big thing. As usual, it was an exaggeration. The usual incidence in the population is about 11 cases per 1,000 children (a little more than one percent). In the group of children studied, the incidence of autism among children whose mothers did not take antidepressants was only seven cases per 1,000 children. Thus, they started with a lower rate than expected in their "normal" group of children. The group of mothers who took antidepressants had an incidence of autism of 12 cases per 1,000 children. Their conclusion was that the rate of autism was higher in that group. There are several problems with the conclusion. The first is that the rate of 12 per 1000 is not a lot different than the usual rate of 11 per 1,000 found in the general population. The second is that the increase of five (from seven to 12) children per 1,000 is indeed a small one. It does little to explain the rise that we have seen in autism over the years. Thus, even though it is likely that maternal use of antidepressants during pregnancy might increase the incidence of autism, the increase is not a huge one. There was a second issue that the news reports glossed over in terms of the findings. That was related to the timing of the antidepressants. It appears that the increase rates did not occur in women who took the antidepressants in the first trimester of pregnancy. They only seemed to occur in women who took the antidepressants in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. We also need to remember that women who are depressed and do not take antidepressants have risks involved. I wrote a column about four years ago about this. What that column indicated was that there was a group of children who would have developmental disabilities if their mothers had untreated depression during pregnancy. This means that suddenly making a decision to stop antidepressants during pregnancy might not be that beneficial. If the depression itself causes problems, we might simply be trading autism for another group of developmental issues. Perhaps we need to focus on problems that are more obvious. For example, we know that the rate of autism continues to increase. During that same period, the rate of obesity has increased significantly. In the last 35 years the rate of obesity in pregnant women has doubled. About 34% of pregnant women are obese. The question has been raised as to whether the increase in autism is related to the increase in obesity. There is no proof of that. It could just be a coincidence. However, why take that chance? Obesity causes a lot of other problems that we do know about. If those do not get people to lose weight, it is not likely that a potential threat of autism in a child will do so. It does help put things in perspective. Before we rush off to stop antidepressants in pregnant women, perhaps we should be more worried about other problems such as untreated depression in a pregnant woman and the possible relationship of autism and obesity.

Hospice offers support group Delaware Hospice will offer a support group, Healing After the Loss of a Loved One, at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, Milton, on Mondays, Jan. 11-Feb. 15 from 1-2:30 p.m. The church is located at 307 Federal St. in Milton. This group is open to anyone who is grieving the death of a loved one. The group offers education on grief and suggestions for coping and moving forward after loss. To register or learn about other support groups, contact Midge DiNatale at 856-7717 or midinatale@delawarehospice.org.

Strength training for survivors As a cancer survivor, you know you should include strength training in your exercise routine, but where do you begin? Join Adam David Howard, BS, CPT, personal trainer of Body Shop Fitness in Rehoboth at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, to learn how to begin a gentle routine that will start you back on the road to good health. Dress comfortably. Call 645-9150 in advance to reserve your spot in this workshop. All programs offered at Cancer Support Community are free of charge to people affected by cancer and their loved ones. The Sussex facility is located at 18947 John J. Williams Hwy., Ste. 312, Rehoboth.

Yin Yoga workshop The Cancer Support Community, Sussex facility, will offer a workshop about Yin Yoga which focuses on opening the joints and dense connective tissue of the body, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23. Instructor is Shannon Sugrue. Yin Yoga is a practice of long held floor poses that can clear energetic blocks in the body, calm the nervous system and create lasting change in range of motion. This meditative practice will include poses that help balance the meridians in your body for winter health and well being. Dress comfortably. Call 645-9150 to reserve your spot. All programs offered at Cancer Support Community are free of charge to people affected by cancer and their loved ones. The Sussex facility is located at 18947 John J. Williams Hwy., Suite 312, Rehoboth.

Better Breathers Club Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a Better Breathers Club from 2-3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18, in the Medical Staff Conference Room. This free support group is open to anyone affected by a chronic lung disease including relatives and caregivers. This month's meeting will focus on "CPAP & BiPAP" presented by guest speaker Bob Keller, BS, RRT, of Prompt Care Respiratory. Chronic lung diseases make it difficult to breathe. There are several types of chronic lung disease: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis, cystic and pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, sarcoidosis, and lung cancer. Many forms of chronic lung disease are preventable and medically manageable. Backed by the American Lung Association, the Better Breathers Club offers a venue for participants to learn from guest speakers and educational materials, socialize with others affected by a chronic lung disease, and practice skills that will help them better manage their condition and improve their quality of life. The group meets the third Monday of each month. Refreshments will be provided and registration is required. For more information or to register, call 629-6611, ext. 1010.

Lymphedema support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a lymphedema support group on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Seaford Library and Cultural Center from 1:30-3 p.m. The topic will be Social Services. This free support group is open to anyone affected by lymphedema including patients, caregivers, and relatives. Meetings will consist of a lecture by health care professionals and medical equipment providers followed by refreshments and an open question and answer session or discussion among participants. Registration is required. Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin that occurs most commonly in the limbs. A chronic condition, lymphedema causes swelling which may create movement limitation, and leaves patients at higher risks for wounds and infections. Additional meeting dates and topics for this year include: Feb. 18 - vascular; March 17 - aquatics treatment & exercises; April 21 - compression garments; May 19 - OT self care; June 16 - cancer care; July 21 - skin & wound care; Aug. 18 - bariatrics. For more information or to register, contact Robert Donati at 629-6224 or donatir@nanticoke.org.

Parkinson's Support Group Nanticoke Health Services, in conjunction with CHEER and Care DE and The Methodist Manor House, will hold a Parkinson's education and support group from 9:30-11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Methodist Manor House in Seaford. This support group is free and open to the public. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disease that affects the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. A Parkinson's disease diagnosis can bring out many difficult emotions. It is a challenge to learn how to cope with these feelings along with the stress of diagnosis and treatment. Participating in education/support groups is essential for coping with an illness such as PD or other disorders that impair bodily movement. This support group is also helpful for caregivers, friends and family. Group members welcome guest speakers on subjects related to PD and provide support to each other through small group discussions.

Studies show that the information, training, and counseling that participants receive while attending support group sessions enhances the quality of life, help to alleviate stress, and may even boost the immune system. Tara Trout, LPN at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, co-facilitates the group with Kathy Landis, Care Giver Resource Coordinator at CHEER in Sussex County.

Childbirth classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet each Thursday for five weeks - four weeks related to childbirth education and the fifth week will be a breastfeeding class. Classes will be held on the following dates: Jan. 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4, and 11; Feb. 25, March 3, 10, 17, and 24; April 7, 14, 21, 28, and May 5; May 19, 26, June 2, 9, and 16; July 7, 14, 21, 28, and Aug. 4; Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29; Oct. 13, 20, 27, Nov. 3, and 10; Nov. 15, 22, 29, Dec. 6, and 13. The maternity education classes are designed to offer information, counseling, support, and hands-on experience to help prepare for a new family member. They will cover pregnancy in general, information to prepare the expectant mother for labor and delivery, and will include a tour of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mother Baby Care Unit. A refresher course is also available for those who have previously taken childbirth classes. The cost of the childbirth course is $50, and the cost for the refresher course is $25. Mothers are encouraged to bring their partner or support person for all courses. Advance registration is required for either class. To register, or for more information, contact the Maternal Child Health clinical educator of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Life Line Screening comes to Laurel Learn about your risk for chronic, serious conditions with affordable screenings by Life Line Screening at Centenary United Methodist Church, 200 West Market St., Laurel, on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Screenings can check for:
  • The level of plaque buildup in your arteries, related to risk for heart disease, stroke and overall vascular health.
  • HDL and LDL cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes risk
  • Bone density as a risk for possible osteoporosis
  • Kidney and thyroid function, and more
Screenings are affordable and accessible for wheelchairs and those with trouble walking. Free parking is also available. Packages start at $149, but consultants will work with you to create the right package for you based on your age and risk factors. Call 1-877-237-1287 or visit www.lifelinescreening.com. Pre-registration is required.

Hospice Lunch Bunch Lecture Delaware Hospice will hold a Lunch Bunch Lecture - "Thanks! The Many Benefits of Expressing Appreciation" - at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford on Friday, Jan. 8. Lunch, which is $5 per person, is from noon to 12:30 p.m. The free presentation is from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Research suggests happiness is found less in the pursuit of goals or possessions and more in the appreciation of what one already has. "An attitude of gratitude" has also been shown to reduce stress in 80% of those who practice it. Learn how to enhance your happiness and well being using techniques that cultivate genuine gratitude. To make a reservation for this lecture, contact Michelle August at 478-5707 or maugust@delawarehospice.org by Thursday, Jan. 7.

Lymphedema support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a lymphedema support group on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the Seaford Library and Cultural Center from 1:30-3 p.m. The topic will be Social Services. This free support group is open to anyone affected by lymphedema including patients, caregivers, and relatives. Meetings will consist of a lecture by health care professionals and medical equipment providers followed by refreshments and an open question and answer session or discussion among participants. Registration is required. Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin that occurs most commonly in the limbs. A chronic condition, lymphedema causes swelling which may create movement limitation, and leaves patients at higher risks for wounds and infections. Additional meeting dates and topics for this year include: Feb. 18 - vascular; March 17 - aquatics treatment & exercises; April 21 - compression garments; May 19 - OT self care; June 16 - cancer care; July 21 - skin & wound care; Aug. 18 - bariatrics. For more information or to register, contact Robert Donati at 629-6224 or donatir@nanticoke.org.

Childbirth classes Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet each Thursday for five weeks - four weeks related to childbirth education and the fifth week will be a breastfeeding class. Classes will be held on the following dates: Jan. 14, 21, 28, Feb. 4, and 11; Feb. 25, March 3, 10, 17, and 24; April 7, 14, 21, 28, and May 5; May 19, 26, June 2, 9, and 16; July 7, 14, 21, 28, and Aug. 4; Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29; Oct. 13, 20, 27, Nov. 3, and 10; Nov. 15, 22, 29, Dec. 6, and 13. The maternity education classes are designed to offer information, counseling, support, and hands-on experience to help prepare for a new family member. They will cover pregnancy in general, information to prepare the expectant mother for labor and delivery, and will include a tour of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Mother Baby Care Unit. A refresher course is also available for those who have previously taken childbirth classes. The cost of the childbirth course is $50, and the cost for the refresher course is $25. Mothers are encouraged to bring their partner or support person for all courses. Advance registration is required for either class. To register, or for more information, contact the Maternal Child Health clinical educator of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Parkinson's Support Group Nanticoke Health Services, in conjunction with CHEER and Care DE and The Methodist Manor House, will hold a Parkinson's education and support group from 9:30-11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Methodist Manor House in Seaford. This support group is free and open to the public. Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disease that affects the part of the brain that controls muscle movement. A Parkinson's disease diagnosis can bring out many difficult emotions. It is a challenge to learn how to cope with these feelings along with the stress of diagnosis and treatment. Participating in education/support groups is essential for coping with an illness such as PD or other disorders that impair bodily movement. This support group is also helpful for caregivers, friends and family. Group members welcome guest speakers on subjects related to PD and provide support to each other through small group discussions. Studies show that the information, training, and counseling that participants receive while attending support group sessions enhances the quality of life, help to alleviate stress, and may even boost the immune system. Tara Trout, LPN at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, co-facilitates the group with Kathy Landis, Care Giver Resource Coordinator at CHEER in Sussex County.

Life Line Screening comes to Laurel Learn about your risk for chronic, serious conditions with affordable screenings by Life Line Screening at Centenary United Methodist Church, 200 West Market St., Laurel, on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Screenings can check for:
  • The level of plaque buildup in your arteries, related to risk for heart disease, stroke and overall vascular health.
  • HDL and LDL cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes risk
  • Bone density as a risk for possible osteoporosis
  • Kidney and thyroid function, and more
Screenings are affordable and accessible for wheelchairs and those with trouble walking. Free parking is also available. Call 1-877-237-1287 or visit www.lifelinescreening.com for more information. Pre-registration is required.