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ADHD

Why are there fewer cases of COVID in children?

Recent information published in a medical journal (American Society for Microbiology) a few days ago may indicate that the MMR( measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is possibly protective in some way!

Antibody immunity to mumps has shown to reduced severity of COVID 19  in those under the age of 42 who have received MMR vaccination. A reported by Jeffery Gold, president of the World Organisation in Watkins, Georgia confirmed the research,  adding to other pieces of evidence showing that MMR vaccine may offer protection against COVID 19. Cape Town university has also conducted research and is beginning to show similar results. The study may explain why children have a much lower infection rate and a much lower death rate.

Most children get their first MMR vaccine at 12 months in South Africa and another dose around age six years.

MMR vaccine is not available to the vast majority of South Africans as it is not part of the Government vaccination schedule.

The main benefit of the MMR vaccine comes from the mumps portion of the vaccine and not the measles and rubella( German measles ). There is no separate vaccine for mumps, and immunity can only be acquired by receiving the MMR vaccine.

Mumps infection in South Africa predominantly occurs in spring affecting children under the age of 10 years, mainly between 5-9 years. Mumps is one of the most common causes of acquired nerve deafness!

With this information in mind, parents are advised to vaccine children at the age of 6 years, and 12 years. Based on the study, it would be prudent to vaccinate all those over the age of 40 regardless of the previous vaccinations.

The Mayo Clinic in the USA, a highly respected medical institution advises that:

Children should have MMR vaccine for the “first day of school.”

It’s vital to ensure that vaccinations are up to date.

Measles can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and leave you with chronic inflammation of your brain called “subsclerosing panencephalitis’. That can kill!

Mumps can; inflame the brain and cause meningitis, inflame the testes and ovaries causing infertility, and inflame the hearing nerve causing deafness.

Rubella or German measles can cause congenital disabilities. It’s a severe illness for pregnant mothers and newborn babies.

All of these viral infections are HIGHLY contagious. I have tried to illustrate the infectious nature of measles by comparing seasonal flu, COVID-19 and Measles, below.

MEASLES IS 6 TIMES MORE INFECTIOUS THAN COVID-19.

What about the question of MMR and autism? What do parents need to know? Over the past 20 years as a paediatrician, I have answered may parents question on the connections of MMR and autism, and vaccines in general containing “lead” causing seizures and mental retardation in children.

The United Kingdom was impacted and ignored by the rest of the world.

The bottom line if you do not want to read further, there is NO credible connection and evidence that MMR and vaccines are causing severe medical or mental issues in children. Children should be vaccinated by a qualified medical professional with the knowledge to answer your questions, administer the vaccines safely, and treat any rare complication like allergic reactions. 

An excellent publication authored by Michael Fitzpatrick a UK doctor will reassure parents about the safety of MMR, and reassure parents of children with autism that they have not a reason to blame themselves over administering the vaccine to children.

John Flett

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ADHD

Effective treatment for ADHD is available

Effective treatment for ADHD is available

SPONSORED: Speak to your doctor about ADHD treatment for your child.

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood, affecting around one in every 10 to 25 children of school going age.

Although at times all children drift off into their imagination and test their boundaries with unruly behaviour, the occasions when children with ADHD have problems sustaining attention and controlling their behaviour are frequent and severe enough to interfere with their ability to live normal lives and socialise normally with their peers.1

The good news is that effective treatment for ADHD is available, enabling children to live a healthy and happy life and providing stability at school and at home.1

Speak to your doctor about ADHD treatment options that will suit your child’s needs.

Reference1. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Understanding ADHD. Information for parents about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 2007. Accessed 23 October 2018

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ADHD

ADHD Prevention

Preventing ADHD

There are certain steps you can follow to lower your child’s risk for ADHD.

You can lower your child’s risk for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by taking certain steps while trying to conceive and during pregnancy:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Don’t use recreational drugs.
  • Try to manage stress and anxiety levels as best as you can.
  • Follow a healthy diet: eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, good-quality, low-fat protein (e.g. eggs, chicken, fish), legumes, dairy and healthy fats (e.g. avocado, nuts, seeds).

Reviewed by Prof André Venter, Head: Clinical Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Free State. MB ChB, MMed, PhD (Canada), DCH, FCP (Paed) SA. July 2018.

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ADHD Medications Schooling

Inappropriate use ADHD drugs does not improve grades

Illicit use of ADHD meds won’t boost grades

Turning to ADHD medication during exams won’t improve brain function; if anything it may cause harm to your brain.

Many college students turn to ADHDmedications during exam week, treating the prescription stimulants as “smart drugs” that will enhance their academic performance.

But a new study shows that drugs like Adderall do not improve, and can actually impair, brain function in healthy students who take the drug hoping for an intelligence boost.

“It’s not a smart drug. It was not suddenly improving their ability to comprehend information they were reading,” said lead researcher Lisa Weyandt, a professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island.

As many as a third of college students have reported turning to ADHD medications to give themselves an edge on their studies, Weyandt said.

Study edge

The thinking is that if the drugs help kids with ADHD improve their focus, they should provide the same benefit for people who don’t have the disorder, she said.

To test whether this effect is real or not, she and her colleagues recruited 13 students to participate in two five-hour study sessions in the lab. The students took a standard 30mg dose of Adderall before one session, and a placebo capsule before the other.

Students on Ritalin did experience an increase in their blood pressure and heart rate. “The medication was having a physiological effect on their brain,” Weyandt said.

The students also showed an improvement in their alertness and their ability to focus, the researchers found.

However, students on Adderall experienced no improvement in reading comprehension, reading fluency or factual recall, compared to when they’d taken a placebo, Weyandt said.

“We read aloud stories to them and asked them to recall factual information from the stories,” she said. “That didn’t improve.”

Risk factors

Worse, the ADHD stimulant actually impaired students’ working memory, Weyandt said.

“Working memory is your ability to remember and use information in your mind for solving a problem,” she said. “If you have to remember someone’s telephone number and you just have to remember it in your mind, you can’t write it down – that’s working memory.”

People with ADHD often have less neural activity in regions of the brain that control working memory, attention and self-control, Weyandt said. Adderall and similar medications increase activity in those regions, bringing them up to normal levels.

“If your brain is functioning normally in those regions, the medication is unlikely to have a positive effect on cognition and may actually impair cognition,” Weyandt said. “In other words, you need to have a deficit to benefit from the medicine.”

The developing brain

The new study was published recently in the journal Pharmacy.

“They’re often misused [ADHD drugs] because people pull all-nighters and they’re tired, and they think it’s going to keep them awake. Maybe it does, but it’s certainly not going to help with their academic work,” said Dr Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York.

Fornari is particularly concerned that the misuse of ADHD drugs could take a toll on the developing brains of college students, particularly if combined with alcohol and other substances typically abused on campuses.

“The brain is still developing until the mid to late 20s. It’s important to keep it healthy,” Fornari said.

Weyandt added that there’s also a chance that an ADHD stimulant like Adderall – which is essentially an amphetamine – could endanger a student’s heart health.

“If you were a student who had some type of underlying cardiac arrhythmia and you were unaware of it and took a prescription stimulant, it could cause serious cardiac problems,” Weyandt said. “That would be rare, but it’s possible.”

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ADHD

ADHD and your Genes

18 FEBRUARY 2019

Newly-mapped genes may hold keys to ADHD

Researchers analysed data from more than 55 000 individuals and identified 12 gene regions linked with ADHD. — a discovery which might help scientists develop new treatments for the condition.

Millions of American kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have a genetic vulnerability to the disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers analysed data from more than 55 000 individuals and identified 12 gene regions linked with ADHD. These regions probably affect the central nervous system, the study authors said. The discovery might help scientists develop new treatments for ADHD, which affects more than 9% of American children.

“We all carry genetic risk variants for ADHD,” explained researcher Anders Borglum, a professor of biomedicine at Aarhus University in Denmark. “The more we have, the greater our risk for developing ADHD.”

Those same genetic areas share a connection with 200 other diseases and traits, he said. The investigators also found that 44 gene variants implicated in ADHD are linked with depression, anorexia and insomnia.

3m 58s

“We now understand better why some individuals develop ADHD, and begin to get insights into the underlying biology, paving the way towards new and better treatment of ADHD,” Borglum added.

The genetic areas his team uncovered show that this is primarily a brain disorder, Borglum said.

The researchers also found genes that may be linked with ADHD have a role in how brain cells interact and also affect speech development, learning and regulation of dopamine (a chemical messenger that carries signals between brain cells).

Still, the vast majority of ADHD genetics is still undiscovered and will require larger studies, Borglum said.

Further evidence ADHD is an inherited disorder

Study author Stephen Faraone noted that the team “found 12 of the very many — we don’t know how many — probably thousands of genes related to ADHD.” Faraone is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.

The researchers don’t expect to discover just one, two or even 10 genes that each have a dramatic effect on causing ADHD and can be used to diagnose the disorder or quickly develop a treatment, he said. Most likely, a combination of genes and environmental factors trigger ADHD, the study authors said.

Environmental factors may include being born prematurely and underweight or suffering from developmental problems, such as foetal alcohol syndrome, Faraone said.

Interestingly, he added, even though medications work in treating ADHD, they don’t target the genes that the investigators found were linked to the condition. None of the genes affected by the drugs showed up in their analysis of genes tied to ADHD, Faraone said.

The report was published online in November in the journal Nature Genetics.

Ronald Brown, dean of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, said, “This is a promising investigation, as it provides further evidence that ADHD is likely an inherited disorder.” Brown was not involved with the study, but was familiar with the findings.

It’s been clear for years that ADHD runs in families, he said. These findings are also important because they suggest that certain therapies effective for one family member are likely to be effective for other family members who are diagnosed with ADHD, he added.

This study is also important because it shows that several psychological disorders are likely tied to these genes, though no cause-and-effect relationship was proven in the study. This information could help families with prevention and early intervention efforts, Brown said.

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ADHD

Safety of Ritalin and the Heart

Animal study suggests Ritalin won’t harm the heart

Following concerns around children’s heart health when taking ADHD drugs, such as Ritalin, a recent animal study suggests that there is likely no risk of heart damage.

Ritalin, a widely used stimulant drug to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), likely poses no risk of heart damage in children, new research in monkeys suggests.

The findings are “very reassuring,” said the study’s principal investigator, Dr Steven Lipshultz.

Sudden cardiac death

Each year, more than 1.8 million children in the US take drugs to treat ADHD. Concerns have been raised that Ritalin, Concerta and other forms of methylphenidate could harm children’s hearts.

Some studies have reported an increase in sudden cardiac death among children taking methylphenidate or other stimulant drugs for ADHD.

But this new study found that five years of high doses of methylphenidate did not damage the hearts of 30 rhesus monkeys. That length of time is similar to how long children and adults would use the drugs.

“Even high-dose chronic [methylphenidate] stimulant therapy did not result in any evidence of abnormal structures or function in the hearts of the monkeys,” said Lipshultz, chair of paediatrics at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, in New York.

However, his team cautioned that the results of animal research are not automatically applicable to humans.

One ADHD specialist unconnected to the study agreed.

Man vs. Monkey

“The [animal] study cannot be automatically applicable to humans,” said Dr Victor Fornari, who directs child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York.

Still, the findings “provide compelling evidence of the cardiac safety of this important evidence-based treatment for ADHD,” Fornari said.

About 10% of US children have been diagnosed with ADHD and related disorders. Up to 70% of them take prescription stimulant drugs, so possible heart risks associated with the drugs are a major concern, study author Lipshultz said in a university news release.

The US Food and Drug Administration has ordered some prescription stimulants to carry black box warnings stating that children with underlying heart disease should use these medications with caution.

In Canada, a stimulant drug was removed from the market after it was linked to a small number of sudden cardiac deaths. Sales of the drug later resumed.

“This controversy has persisted without answer,” Lipshultz said. “Yet the number of prescriptions for these medications for children with ADHD continues to expand.”

Another expert said the new findings should help ease concerns.

Each case is unique

The study results “are overall re-assuring in terms of cardiac safety and long-term use of stimulants for ADHD in otherwise healthy individuals,” said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral paediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York.

However, he added that the study “does not address clinical concerns about the safety of stimulants in individuals with certain types of heart disease.”

Therefore, “health care providers need to continue to screen children for cardiac problems prior to prescribing stimulant medications like Ritalin, Concerta or Adderall, since there are some individuals who may still be at increased risk for potentially serious heart problems if treated with stimulant medication,” Adesman said.

Lipshultz noted that the findings are good news for another type of pediatric patient: young cancer survivors.

“I have cared for children and adolescents who have survived childhood cancer, who now are experiencing severe learning disabilities as a result of their cancer therapies. They become my patients because their hearts have been damaged, an unfortunate effect of the successful treatment of their childhood cancer,” he said.

“Current recommendations state that children such as these, with underlying heart disease, should avoid chronic stimulant therapy because of the concern that it could further damage their hearts,” he explained. “However, these prescription stimulants often allow these children to do much better with their learning progress.”

The new findings suggest that, in many cases, these medications can be prescribed to these children as well, Lipshultz said.

The study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health. It was recently published in the journal Pediatric Research.

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