Children As Young As Ten Battling Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders graphic

Thousands of Connecticut adults and children – some as young as 10 – struggle with eating disorders with many suffering secretly because the life-threatening psychiatric condition has gone undiagnosed and untreated, experts in the field report.

“We used to see eating disorders start at 13 or 14. Now we frequently see 10- and 11-year olds,” said Dr. Diane Mickley, founder and director of the Wilkins Center for Eating Disorders in Greenwich, which has treated females and males for three decades. Mickley is a founder and past president of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

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Long ER Stays For Kids In Crisis On The Rise

Hartford Children's Medical Center

Just a few years ago, it was rare that children with mental health problems would spend two or more nights in the emergency room at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Only 40 children stayed that long in 2010.

So far this year, more than 250 children have spent multiple nights in the emergency department (ED) – a number expected to reach 500 by the end of the year.

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Years Home, Female Iraq Vets Endure The Wounds Of War

Vet Eunice Ramirez

It’s been nine years since Eunice Ramirez served in Iraq, but she still suffers from war wounds – post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, respiratory problems and frequent crying triggered by her memories.

Suzanna Smaldone, who also returned home from Iraq in 2005, lives in constant pain and can’t bring herself to talk about her war injuries.

Cheryl Eberg, home from Iraq for seven years, counsels other veterans, but their war stories can trigger her own mental health issues.

Though it’s not unusual for veterans of both sexes to struggle for years with war injuries when they return home, officials say that women veterans have their own unique challenges, which can make their transition to civilian life particularly hard.

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Early Pregnancy Blood Test Reducing Need For Amniocentesis

Prenatal blood test

A simple blood test is transforming the world of prenatal screening, offering women a risk-free way to learn about fetal abnormalities early in pregnancy.

Already, the new test has drastically reduced the demand for amniocentesis, an invasive procedure that diagnoses chromosomal disorders in mid-pregnancy and occasionally causes miscarriage. The blood test, which became available in late 2011, can analyze DNA to predict Down Syndrome and a few other genetic diseases as early as nine weeks in pregnancy, says Dr. Daniel Gottschall, medical director of Women’s Health Connecticut, a group practice with 80 offices around the state.

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State Restrains Psychiatric Patients At High Rate

Restraints

As the state works to improve its mental health system, new federal data shows that hospitals in Connecticut restrain psychiatric patients at more than double the average national rate, with elderly patients facing restraint at a rate seven times the national average.

In addition, the state lags behind in providing adequate post-discharge continuing care plans for psychiatric patients, especially teens and the elderly. Connecticut’s 28 inpatient psychiatric units and hospitals developed continuing-care plans for fewer than 70 percent of patients they discharged from October 2012 to March 2013 – indicating that thousands of patients may have left facilities without adequate treatment and medication plans.

A C-HIT analysis of the federal data, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for the first time, shows that Connecticut ranks in the top fourth of states (11th highest) in the use of physical restraints in inpatient psychiatric facilities – and is the third highest state in restraining patients 65 and older.

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