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Animal Assisted Therapy Improves Medical, Behavioral and Emotional Health

By Lois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, CAS

What is Animal Assisted Therapy?

Animal Assisted TherapyAnimal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) practitioners blend guided therapeutic interventions with safe and highly motivating animal-human interactions that are designed to focus and share attention. AAT’s ability to capture and maintain an individual’s focus can encourage and expand joint attention, which, according to Prizant (2008), is a pivotal skill or a fundamental building block that influences the development of emotional regulation, social skills, and communication.

By maintaining interest and attention, AAT works to support language and motor activities, encourage social interaction, provide sensory integration, and motivate students to do their best. This philosophy of engaging an individual’s interest often yields beneficial results for children and adults with special needs. According to noted researcher Barry Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP (2008), “The most effective approaches [for Autism Spectrum Disorders] infuse developmental, child-centered, and family-centered principles in educational programming for children with ASD.”

“One of the most fundamental advantages of animal-assisted therapy over other therapeutic modalities is that it provides the patient a much-needed opportunity to give affection as well as receive it. It is this reciprocity, rare among medical therapies, that makes AAT a unique and valuable route to healing.” – Dr. Andrew Weil (2011), world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine.

A Brief History

Although the term Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is relatively new, the use of animals to help people overcome illness and/or mental disorders is not a new idea. The earliest use of pet animals for therapeutic use was in Belgium in the middle ages, where pets and people were rehabilitated together, with pets providing a part of the natural therapy for the humans. Following this practice, The York Retreat in Germany and Bethel for the mentally ill and the homeless included animals, as a part of the therapeutic milieu reaping the benefits. Later, the Human Animal Bond was conceptualized by a Psychologist, Boris Levinson and Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian Nobel laureate in Physiology. This bond is explained as an intrinsic need in humans to bond with nature, especially in the background of their chaotic lives. The modern movement of using companion animals as a means of therapy had a multidisciplinary origin, involving the fields of veterinary medicine, psychology, sociology, psychiatry funded by pet food industry.

There are references to the fact that the early Greeks used horses to lift severely ill people’s spirits. In the 17th century, physicians reportedly began using horses as treatments to improve both physical and mental health issues in their patients. In the 1940s, the American Red Cross and the Army Air Corps established a farm where recuperating veterans could interact with and take care of animals while they were healing from war injuries and illness. Working with the animals was thought to comfort the recovering veterans, help them forget about the war, and focus on recovery.

How Can I Learn More?

Animal Assisted TherapyLois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, CAS, developed a 2-hour online continuing education course to provide therapists, educators, and caregivers with the information and techniques needed to begin using the human-animal bond successfully to meet individual therapeutic goals. The online course, Animal Assisted Therapy, is accredited for psychologists, counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists. Click here to learn more.

Lois Jean Brady, MA, CCC-SLP, CAS, is passionate about working with the special needs community. She found her calling while in high school, when she spent her summer breaks volunteering in camp programs for children with special needs. Lois has over two decades of experience working as a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in autism spectrum disorder and is a Certified Autism Specialist. Educational accomplishments include a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, Certificate in Assistive Technology, Certificate in Computer Based Intervention and completion of an Animal Assisted Therapy Program.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

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Mindfulness Therapy May Help Prevent Depression Relapse

Mindfulness Therapy May Help Prevent Depression RelapseRelapse is a common and devastating aspect of major depression, a mental illness that affects roughly 15 million Americans. The usual preventative treatment is long-term or maintenance use of antidepressants.

Now a large new study published in The Lancet suggests that mindfulness therapy can be just as effective in preventing relapse.

The relapse rates are high: More than half of those who suffer from one episode of major depression will relapse at least once in their lifetimes, and roughly 80 percent of those who have had two episodes will experience another recurrence.

Yet as Dr. Richard Byng, a psychologist at the U.K.’s Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and one of the study’s authors, noted, “There are many people who, for a number of different reasons, are unable to keep on a course of medication for depression. Moreover, many people do not wish to remain on medication for indefinite periods, or cannot tolerate its side effects.”

The study, conducted from the U.K.’s University of Exeter, compared the results of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with those of maintenance antidepressant use among 424 adults with recurring major depression.

Researchers asked half of the participants to stay on their medications, while the other half tapered off medication and underwent a course of MBCT. Those in the MBCT group attended two-hour-plus weekly group sessions for eight weeks, consisting of guided mindfulness practices, group discussion and other cognitive behavioral exercises. They were also given daily home practice and, after the group sessions ended, had the opportunity to attend four follow-up sessions over the course of the next year.

Regular assessments for major depressive episodes over the following two years found similar relapse rates among the MBCT group (44 percent) and the antidepressant group (47 percent).

How does MBCT work? Using meditation, individuals learn to separate themselves from the sway of their immediate moods. They learn to recognize negative thought patterns and to respond productively, rather than spiraling downward into obsessive thoughts and relapsing into depression.

Dr. Zindel Segal, a University of Toronto psychologist and the co-developer of MBCT, explained that short-circuiting negative thoughts allows people to find joy in the present moment.

“MBCT, at its core, is teaching people to practice mindfulness,” Segal, who was not involved in the study, told The Huffington Post. “And what mindfulness teaches people is how to work more wisely with their emotions. It’s a meditation that is really well suited to helping people encounter difficult states of mind and turning around how they work with them, so that they can choose more adaptive responses rather than habitual responses.”

Segal expressed enthusiasm about the new findings, which he said offer further clinical evidence that mindfulness-based therapies can rival traditional psychotherapy and pharmaceutical intervention in treating major depression.

“This study gives us a lot more confidence in telling people that if, for some reason, they can’t stay on their antidepressants for the next three or five more years,” said Segal, “there is now a credible and scientifically supported alternative to help them stay well.”

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/23/depression-mindfulness-therapy_n_7107394.html?ir=Healthy%20Living&ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

Related Online Continuing Education Courses:

Mindfulness: The Healing Power of Compassionate PresenceMindfulness: The Healing Power of Compassionate Presence is a 6-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course for mental health professionals that gives you the mindfulness skills necessary to work directly, effectively and courageously, with your own and your client’s life struggles. Compassion towards others starts with compassion towards self. Practicing mindfulness cultivates our ability to pay intentional attention to our experience from moment to moment. Mindfulness teaches us to become patiently and spaciously aware of what is going on in our mind and body without judgment, reaction, and distraction, thus inviting into the clinical process, the inner strengths and resources that help achieve healing results not otherwise possible. Bringing the power of mindful presence to your clinical practice produces considerable clinical impact in the treatment of anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, colitis/IBS, and migraines/tension headaches. The emphasis of this course is largely experiential and will offer you the benefit of having a direct experience of the mindfulness experience in a safe and supportive fashion. You will utilize the power of “taking the client there” as an effective technique of introducing the mindful experience in your practice setting. As you will learn, the mindfulness practice has to be experienced rather than talked about. This course will provide you with an excellent understanding of exactly what mindfulness is, why it works, and how to use it. You will also develop the tools that help you introduce mindful experiences in your practice, and how to deal with possible client resistance. Course #60-75 | 2008 | 73 pages | 27 posttest questions

DepressionDepression is a 1-hour introductory online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options. Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression. Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger. Course #10-72 | 2014 | 14 pages | 10 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

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Girls with Type 1 Diabetes at High Risk for Eating Disorders

By age 25 years, cumulative probability of onset of eating disorder is 60 percent.

Eating disorders common is girls with Type 1 diabetesFor girls and young women with type 1 diabetes, eating disorders are common and persistent, according to a study published online April 17 in Diabetes Care.

Patricia A. Colton, M.D., from the University Health Network in Toronto, and colleagues describe the longitudinal course of disturbed eating behavior (DEB) and eating disorders in 126 girls with type 1 diabetes. The girls participated in a series of seven interview-based assessments of eating disorder behavior and psychopathology over a 14-year period.

The researchers found that the mean age was 11.8 and 23.7 years at time 1 and time 7, respectively. At time 7, 32.4 and 8.5 percent of participants met the criteria for a current eating disorder and had a subthreshold eating disorder, respectively. The mean age at eating disorder onset was 22.6 years, and by age 25 years the cumulative probability of onset was 60 percent. There was an average of 4.3 years between onset of eating disorder and subsequent eating disorder remission; by six years after onset, the cumulative probability of remission was 79 percent. There was an average of 6.5 years between remission of eating disorder and subsequent recurrence; by six years after remission, the cumulative probability of recurrence was 53 percent.

“Future research should focus on the development and testing of strategies for the prevention and treatment of DEB and eating disorders in this high-risk group,” the authors write.

Source: http://www.physiciansbriefing.com/Article.asp?AID=698620

Related Online Continuing Education (CE/CEU) Courses:

Nutrition for Eating DisordersNutrition for Eating Disorders is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that describes the goals of nutrition therapy for the treatment of eating disorders. Effective treatment of eating disorders requires multidimensional and individualized interventions. Education that addresses the normal nutritional needs and the physiologic effects of starvation and refeeding is a critical component of treatment. Management often requires long-term nutritional counseling of the patient which may extend several years. This course will describe the rationale and use of providing Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) for the treatment of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and Binge Eating Disorder. Included are: Criteria for Diagnosing Eating Disorders; Role of Dieting in the Development of Eating Disorders; Symptomology; Treatment Overview; Nutrition Therapy; Reconnecting with Hunger and Satiety; Use of Exercise; Working with a Therapist; Pharmacotherapy; In-Patient versus Out-Patient Treatment; Refeeding; Establishing a Dietary/Eating Pattern; Comparing Traditional and Health at Every Size (HAES) Approaches to Health Enhancement; Recovery from Eating Disorders; Nutrition Care Process; and the Core Minimum Guide. Course #30-80 | 2015 | 24 pages | 21 posttest questions

Nutrition Education for Diabetes MellitusNutrition Education for Diabetes Mellitus is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that describes the rationale and goals for providing medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for the treatment and prevention of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood sugar (glucose). Glucose is vital to health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up the muscles and tissues. It’s also the brain’s main source of fuel. Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Potentially reversible diabetes conditions include prediabetes — when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes — and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy but may resolve after the baby is delivered. This course describes the rationale and goals for providing medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for the treatment and prevention of diabetes mellitus. Included are: recommendations for specific nutrient modifications; nutrition assessment, diagnosis, intervention, monitoring and evaluation; exercise and stress; gastropathy; enteral nutrition; testing and classifications; medications and insulin; blood glucose meters; and methods of meal planning. Nutrition education tools and handouts are provided to assist the dietitian in counseling clients. Course #21-08 | 2015 |  26 pages | 14 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is a CPE Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR #PR001). CPE accreditation does not constitute endorsement by CDR of provider programs or materials. Professional Development Resources is also a provider with the Florida Council of Dietetics and Nutrition (#50-1635) and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within 1 week of completion).

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Nutrition & Dietetics

 

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Missouri Occupational Therapists Continuing Education Information

From the Missouri Board of Occupational Therapy

Online CEUs for Missouri OTsMissouri-licensed Occupational Therapists (OTs) and Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) have an upcoming license renewal deadline of June 30, 2015.

All OT/OTA licensees are required to complete 24 hours of continuing education in order to renew. The hours must be obtained between 7/1/2013 – 6/30/2015 and may all be taken online. At least fifty percent (50%) of the twenty-four (24) continuing competency credits must be directly related to the delivery of occupational therapy services, and the remaining CCCs must be related to one’s practice area or setting. The continuing education is only to be submitted to the board office upon request. Please visit Continuing Competency Requirements for more information.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA #3159) to provide online continuing education courses to occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. Missouri-licensed OTs and OTAs can earn all 24 hours for renewal through online courses available @ https://www.pdresources.org/profession/index/5.

Source: https://www.pdresources.org/blog_data/missouri-ots-license-renewal-ce-info/

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in General

 

The Way We Talk About Mental Illness Needs To Change

By Erin Schumaker

Rethink Mental IllnessResearch by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy shows the loaded words used to describe drug addiction, such as “clean” vs. “dirty,” can actually drive people away from getting help, The Huffington Post reported in March.

The same is true of terminology used to describe mental illness, where phrases such as “unsuccessful suicide” can exacerbate rather than improve the dialogue surrounding suicide and depression.

Mental illness cuts across a wide swath of society. One in five Americans will experience a mental health issue in their lives, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and many say they feel stigmatized for their illness by friends, family, strangers and the media.

Because media reporting has a large impact on the public’s perception of mental illness and can be fraught with tough language choices, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) put together a rubric to help journalists write responsibility about mental illness and suicide. Click here to view.

“Words are very important,” Michelle Riba, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Health System, told HuffPost. (Riba is also a former president of the APA, but did not have a hand in compiling the organization’s mental illness reporting guidelines.) “Let me just say that this is not just for reporters. I think this helps us all think about ways to talk about these issues and communicate.”

One of the most important changes that can be made when talking about mental illness is to stop labeling people as diseases. Instead of saying someone is a cancer patient or a schizophrenic, for example, the language should be “This is a person who has breast cancer” or “This person has schizophrenia.”

There’s a phrase for this type of humanizing sentence construction: people-first language, which Mental Health America describes as “speaking and writing in a way that acknowledges the person first, then the condition or disability.”

“It helps people understand that the person isn’t the disease, the person has the illness,” said Riba. “It doesn’t stigmatize the person — it gets to the point that the person has something that needs to be evaluated and treated.”

Riba also noted that the term “substance abuse” was dropped from the latest addition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which mental health professionals use to determine common language across the profession. The new terminology will be “substance use disorder.”

“Use of terms more in keeping with this medical malfunction, such as describing an affected person as an individual with, or suffering from, a ‘substance use disorder’ — as opposed to a ‘substance abuser’ — may decrease stigma and increase perceptions of a need for treatment,” John F. Kelly, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told HuffPost in March.

One way to frame conversations and reports about mental illness is to think critically about the goal of the conversation or report.

“The message that you’re trying to convey is often very important,” Riba said. “Then the words will follow.”

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/17/mental-illness-vocabulary_n_7078984.html?ir=Healthy%20Living&utm_campaign=041715&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Alert-healthy-living&utm_content=Title&ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

Professional Development Resources offers a variety of online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses for healthcare and mental health professionals that address the mental health needs of our communities. Click here to view.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

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Texas Psychologist Continuing Education Information

texas psychologists continuing education and license renewalsTexas Psychologists Continuing Education Requirements and License Renewals

Psychologist licensees in the state of Texas are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of professional development during each year they hold a license. The hours must be directly related to the practice of psychology.

 

There are no home study limits if APA approved. There is an annual birth month deadline for licensees.

 

Of these 20 hours, a minimum of 3 hours must be in the area(s) of ethics, Board Rules of Conduct, or professional responsibility. The Board’s policy on ethics hours may be accessed by clicking on the following link:Ethics Course Guidelines. Also, out of the 20 required hours, another 3 hours must be in the area of cultural diversity.

 

Psychology 
Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists
Phone: 512-305-7700
CE Required: 20 hours per year
Home Study Allowed: No limit
License Expiration: Birthmonth, annually
National Accreditation Accepted: APA
Notes: CE hours must be directly related to the practice of psychology, 3 hrs ethics, board rules of conduct or professional responsibility req’d each renewal

Information obtained from the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists on April 16, 2015.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

Continuing Education Courses for Psychologists: 

Constructive Clinical Supervision in Counseling and Psychotherapy is a 6-hour test-only CE course. This CE test is based on the book “Constructive Clinical Supervision in Counseling and Psychotherapy” (2015, 145 pages). The text articulates a practical, theoretical approach to supervision that integrates salient elements of a number of diverse but complementary theoretical perspectives from the fields of human development, psychotherapy, and clinical supervision to assist in facilitating supervisee growth and change from a constructivist framework. Constructive Clinical Supervision is written in a way that is highly accessible and inviting to supervisors who are new to constructivist ideas, while also offering sufficient theoretical depth and practical utility for those already well versed in constructivism. It is written for supervisors from all backgrounds, from beginning graduate students who are learning about supervision for the first time, to seasoned veterans who are exploring ways to deepen their clinical practice.

Helping Your Young Client Persevere in the Face of Learning Differences is a 3-hour online video CE course. Clinicians and teachers working with students struggling at grade level are committed to raising their students’ achievement potential by creating opportunities to learn. In order to accomplish this, they need to learn new techniques that can help encourage discouraged students – particularly those who have different ways of learning – by supporting and motivating them without enabling self-defeating habits. This course will provide strategies and techniques for helping students minimize the patterns of “learned helplessness” they have adopted, appreciate and maximize their strengths, develop a growth mindset, value effort and persistence over success, view mistakes as opportunities to learn, and develop a love of learning that will help them take personal responsibility for their school work. The course video is split into 3 parts for your convenience.

The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction is a 5-hour test-only CE course. This CE test is based on the book “The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction: A Guide to Coping with the Grief, Stress and Anger that Trigger Addictive Behaviors” (2012, 232 pages). This workbook presents a comprehensive approach to working with clients in recovery from addictive behaviors and is unique in that it addresses the underlying loss that clients have experienced that may be fueling addictive behaviors.  Counseling skills from the field of mindfulness therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy are outlined in a clear and easy-to-implement style. Healthy strategies for coping with grief, depression, anxiety, and anger are provided along with ways to improve interpersonal relationships.
 
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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in CE Requirements, Psychology

 

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Gestational Diabetes Linked To Autism Risk

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Gestational Diabetes Linked To Autism Risk

Gestational Diabetes Linked To Autism Risk

A new study of more than 320,000 babies links autism to gestational diabetes.

The longitudinal study, conducted between 1995 and 2009 by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, found that children born to mothers who developed gestational diabetes before 26 weeks of pregnancy were at a 63 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. But after controlling for maternal age, education, ethnicity, household income, the child’s sex and the mother’s pre-existing conditions, that risk dropped to 42 percent.

While the overall rate of autism among study participants was 1 in 100 (mirroring national averages during the period of study), the rate of autism among children born to mothers with early pregnancy diabetes was 1 in 80.

Because this is a longitudinal association study, researchers were not able to establish a cause for the autism diagnosis. However, the associations were strong enough to warrant at least two health applications for expectant parents, according to study co-author Dr. Edward Curry.

For one, the study’s results emphasize the importance of early prenatal care. The women whose children were most at risk for developing autism were not women with previously diagnosed type 2 diabetes (who were already managing the condition with insulin, medication and diet). Nor were they women who got gestational diabetes after 26 weeks. Instead, the link between early gestational diabetes and an increased likelihood of autism diagnosis could mean that a fetus’ early exposure to uncontrolled high blood sugar may somehow affect brain development.

“We want to get mothers in early to make sure they’re on their vitamins, folic acid and that they check blood sugar to make sure it’s under control early on,” said Curry. “I think that’s the real takeaway message from this study.”

The second application, according to Curry, is for moms who know they were diagnosed with gestational diabetes before 26 weeks. These moms should remain extra vigilant about their baby’s developmental milestones. Are they making eye contact, babbling and pointing? Parents should also tell their child’s pediatrician about the gestational diabetes diagnosis, and ensure that pediatricians screen for autism appropriately at 12, 18 or 24 months old.

“We as pediatricians are supposed to be screening [by at least] 18 and 24 months, but it never hurts for the parents to have increased vigilance,” explained Curry. He also emphasized that his finding needs to be confirmed with more studies, as well as a few that can find out the causal link between gestational diabetes and autism, if there is one.

Dr. Annette Estes, the director of the University of Washington Autism Center, was not involved in Curry’s research but praised it for the large sample size, the length of time covered and the fact that the analysis controlled for multiple factors beyond gestational diabetes. The next step, said Estes, would be to do a prospective study, which looks forward in time by following pregnant moms, collecting data along their fetus’ growth and the child’s development. And, of course, the ultimate goal would be to figure out why there’s such a strong association between early gestational diabetes and the risk of autism diagnosis in children.

While scientists don’t know what exactly causes autism spectrum disorder, research to date suggests that a mix of genetic and environmental factors are at play. It’s known that autism tends to run in families and that having one child with autism increases the risk of subsequent siblings being diagnosed with the condition as well. Autism has also been linked in past studies to factors like air pollution, maternal obesity, periods of prenatal oxygen deprivation, exposure to pesticides and advanced parental age, according to the National Institutes of Health. The amount of preliminary research that’s out there right now can be confusing for parents and lay readers, explained Estes.

“The main factor that we are all in agreement is that genetics plays a major role in autism, but it doesn’t account for everything,” said Estes. “Once we get the genetics of autism a little more clear, then we can understand more about other risk factors; There’s going to be a number of risk factors, as we can see.”

“I think at this point, what parents can take away is that [autism research] is a science that’s in process,” she concluded.

Autism is a lifelong disorder that is characterized by lack of eye contact, communication delays, difficulty forming relationships and a preoccupation with niche subjects or objects. Other behaviors typical in people with autism include rocking one’s body, banging one’s head against a hard surface and flapping one’s hands, although the severity of the condition can vary from person to person, ranging from mild impairment to severe disability.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that currently, 1 in 68 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and that the condition is about five times more common in boys.

Curry’s study was published online April 14 in JAMA.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/16/gestational-diabetes-autism_n_7073578.html?ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

Related Online Continuing Education Courses for Healthcare Professionals:

Autism: The New Spectrum of Diagnostics, Treatment & Nutrition is a 4-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that describes DSM-5 diagnostic changes, assessment, intervention models, dietary modifications, nutrition considerations and other theoretical interventions.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-Based Screening and Assessment is a 3-hour online CEU course that identifies DSM-5 diagnostic changes in the ASD diagnostic criteria, summarizes the empirically-based screening and assessment methodology in ASD and describes a comprehensive developmental approach for assessing students with ASD.

See more @ https://www.pdresources.org/searchlisting?search_input=autism&search_title=1

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

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