A couple of items from Reuters Health today focusing on our kids and their possible relationships with corrections sentencing. First, this:
Men who had both conduct and emotional problems at age 8 are more likely than their peers with conduct problems alone to commit crimes and have a diagnosis of psychiatric illness in young adulthood, Finnish researchers report.
"Although these boys at age 8 included only 4 percent of the sample, they were responsible for more than one fourth of all crimes between age 16 and 20 in this sample," Dr. Andre Sourander of Turku University Hospital, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.
Among the conduct and emotional problems group, who made up 4.3 percent of all boys in the study, two-thirds were in need of mental health help at age 8, according to their parents or teachers. However, almost none of them got such help, either in childhood or later on.
By age 18 to 23, 32 percent of the study participants with both conduct and emotional problems had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, while 48 percent had committed a crime by age 20.
Boys with conduct problems alone or attention problems were at lower risk of later criminal activity and psychiatric problems. Those with emotional problems only and the "invisible children" fared the best, although they were still at greater risk than their peers with no mental health problems in childhood.
"Our findings suggest that screening of child mental health problems is most important," said Sourander, who pointed out that parent training groups and cognitive behavioral therapy have both been shown to be helpful in treating conduct problems in children.
"The strategy of early detection, screening, assessment and follow-up should be similar to with any other severe chronic childhood disorders, such as diabetes or asthma," he added.
Sourander concluded: "We need further research on psychosocial, biological and genetic risk factors (for) these boys who are 'affectively and behaviorally dysregulated' and are in greatest risk for later adversities."
Hair samples from mothers and their newborn babies can be used to screen for abuse of methamphetamine, investigators report.
"Women who use methamphetamine are very likely to be polydrug users," Dr. Gideon Koren told Reuters Health. "This means there are huge postnatal risks for the child, and those kids and their mothers need careful follow-up to ensure optimal development."
It's sure not the 50s anymore.