Monday, August 25, 2008

Australian teens' risky drinking "linked to" infertility

But not shown to CAUSE infertility -- as Queensland's Nick Martin points out -- deflating a finger-wagging American puritan

Heavy drinking by females in their teens and 20s may reduce their chances of motherhood later in life, new research has found. Previous studies have linked teenage drinking with risky sex and early motherhood. Now a study of Australian twins has shown that alcoholism in women resulted in later childbearing. The study by Washington University's school of medicine analysed the drinking habits and reproductive histories of two groups of Australian twins, born before and after 1964.

Researchers found female alcoholics in both groups had children later in life - a trend not repeated in male alcoholics in the groups. In the first group, comprising people born before 1964, 64per cent of female alcoholics had children compared with 78per cent of other women. In the second group, 38per cent of alcohol-dependent women had children, compared with 49per cent of other women. The study confirmed increasing alcoholism in women. Only 4per cent of women met the criteria for alcohol-dependency in the group born before 1964, compared with 15per cent for the group born after. The study did not consider what amount of alcohol consumption affected fertility.

Lead researcher Mary Waldron, of Washington University, said the study, to be published in Alcoholism: Clinical And Experimental Research in November, served as a warning against excessive alcohol consumption. Previous research examined risks to teens or adults but not both, Professor Waldron said. "Our findings highlight a risk associated with [alcohol dependence] in women that is not widely recognised - a risk that has assumed increasing importance given the increased rates of alcohol misuse by women, and particularly young women. "Young women who drink alcohol may want to consider the longer-term consequences for later childbearing. "If drinking continues or increases to levels of problem use, their ability and opportunity to have children may be impaired."

Nick Martin, a professor at Queensland Institute of Medical Research who took part in the study, said the links between alcohol and fertility were not conclusive. "This was about women with persistent drinking problems," Professor Martin said. "The observation is that they will have less reproduction and delayed reproduction. "While the affect may be hormonal, women with alcohol-dependency probably don't make good partners - that's another possible explanation. I think we have to consider the direct behavioural consequences of alcohol too."


Medical experts expose ADHD misdiagnoses

Two of Australia's most senior medical experts have blown the whistle on the misdiagnosis of ADHD, with at least one in three children wrongly diagnosed with the condition.

The alarming figure comes as a leading psychologist warned there was no evidence of the long-term benefits of medication such as Ritalin. Dr Jon Jureidini told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that the misdiagnosis figure could even be higher, with some children with learning difficulties wrongly prescribed drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Dr Jureidini is among a group of experts who have made powerful submissions to the Federal Government's ADHD review panel, which will rewrite guidelines for the diagnosis of the condition.

His warning comes at the same time as a push to ban GPs from diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Some child education experts are concerned doctors are "too readily" labelling children with ADHD and prescribing Ritalin, potentially putting them at risk of dangerous side effects. In their submission, a group of 14 academics has called for multi-disciplinary teams of psychologists, doctors and experts to replace GPs and have sole responsibility for diagnosing the condition. The influential group, from seven universities, including the University of Sydney and the University of Wollongong, has also urged the Federal Government not to declare ADHD a "disability" and allocate special funding for schools based on the number of students suffering it.

A similar move in the US led to an explosion of 600 per cent in the diagnosis, or misdiagnosis, of ADHD as schools competed for the extra grants, the group said. "It is a diagnosis that should not be used in anything other than a tiny fraction of cases in which it is made," Dr Jureidini, head of the Department of Psychological Medicine at Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital, said.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, which is reviewing the outdated guidelines at the request of the National Health and Medical Research Council, has been accused of taking too narrow a view. Dr Jureidini said that about 30 per cent of boys and girls diagnosed with ADHD do not even meet the current diagnostic criteria, which includes being inattentive and easily distracted. He said up to 90 per cent of those diagnosed would be better off with other treatment.

Two of the RACP's controversial draft recommendations include education programs for teachers on dealing with ADHD pupils and special funding for schools with ADHD students. The group of academics said this would mean children with significant disabilities, including cerebral palsy and autism, would miss out on funding and teaching time.

One of the group, Trevor Parmenter, foundation professor in developmental disability studies in the faculties of education and medicine at Sydney University, said ADHD was too complex to be diagnosed in a GP's office. "It is a very complex issue that goes beyond the symptomology," he said. "If a child has been diagnosed with ADHD, a teacher may think they should be put in a special class. They could be disadvantaged." He said too many children were being diagnosed with ADHD by lazy doctors who did not properly investigate the child's problems.


Why I refused to let my child be weighed

The British government's fat-headed policy on obesity should be boycotted

It appears my wife and I have upset the Government, as part of the small minority of parents who refused to have our 11-year-old child weighed and measured in school last term. The authorities worry that it was the parents of fat children who opted out. Or it could have been parents like us, who object to being conscripted into a fat-headed crusade against child obesity that is heavy on political intrusion and light on proven effectiveness.

Letters are to be sent to parents whose children were weighed, giving a "mark" ranging from "underweight" through "healthy weight" to "very overweight". There has been a predictable PC-gone-mad reaction to the Department of Health's predictably stupid decision to drop the word "obese". But whatever words they use, the message is clear: that the authorities have the right to decide whether or not our children are living "healthy lives". They want to measure not only body mass but moral worth, to decide whether our children fit the State's model. The most likely results will be to produce miserable kids and anxious parents.

Despite overegged talk of a child obesity "epidemic", the real extent, causes and health consequences of children being overweight remain uncertain. What is more certain is the lack of hard evidence that campaigns of intervention in school or family life have any beneficial effects. But whatever the intentions, they do single out kids for more pressure, harassment and ridicule - which is all that our body-conscious pre-teens need.

Yet the authorities throw their substantial weight behind every stunt from policing lunchboxes to weighing children like little piggies. At a time when governments have lowered horizons from creating the Good Society to moulding the Healthy Citizen, the anti-obesity crusade legitimises public monitoring of private behaviour. Ours is an age when bullies can no longer call children fatty in the playground. Yet it is deemed legitimate for government to bully them and their parents, using obesity as a bogeyman in scary stories about how we are killing our kids.

It will be a joyless world for children if we turn the pleasures of food, drink and play into problems of "healthy living". At the Museum of London yesterday, my daughters learnt about the statue Fat Boy of Pie Corner, erected where the Great Fire of 1666 ended to warn Londoners that it was caused by "the sin of gluttony". Today the pious warn us about our unhealthy lifestyles rather than our sins. Back home, the children borrowed a neighbour's Wii Fit game. The first thing it does is decide whether you are ideal, overweight or obese. What fun!


1 comment:

Ritalin Prescription Information said...

My name is Lance Burnet and i would like to show you my personal experience with Ritalin.

I am 56 years old. I have taken Ritalin for 30 years. I have been diagnosed with a mild form of narcolepsy. I use 4 (10 MG ) pills per day. The drug ahs worked wonders and eliminated the drowsiness and sleep attacks. My concern now is the length of time I have been on it. When taking a "drug holiday" it seems like my symptoms are worse.

I have experienced some of these side effects-
rebound effect when dosage wears off.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Lance Burnet