This issue: More fMRI studies proving distinct brain differences in people with Bipolar and/or Schizophrenia and those without; using genetics to improve diagnoses and personalize treatments for manic depression; raising children who have a mental illness; Virtual Reality and autism; 80,000 Americans died from the flu in 2017; another study connecting vaccines to autism retracted, and; Andrew Wakefield finally wins an award for his research.
Schizophrenia & Bipolar
“Thomas Wolfers and André Marquand of Radboud university medical center investigated how much the brains of individual patients diagnosed with schizophrenia differ from the ‘average’ patient. For this purpose, they compared brain scans of 250 healthy individuals with those of 218 individuals with schizophrenia. Those with schizophrenia—as a group—differed from the healthy individuals in frontal brain regions, the cerebellum, and the temporal cortex.
“However, the differences between individuals were so great that it is virtually meaningless to speak of ‘the average patient.” Only a few identical differences in the brain occurred in more than two percent of patients. The largest number of differences were only observed on an individual level. According to Marquand: “The brains of individuals with schizophrenia differ so much from the average that the average has little to say about what might be occurring in the brain of an individual.””
‘Recognizing the uniqueness of individuals with schizophrenia’ — Medical XPress.
“Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are distinct diagnoses yet they have symptoms that overlap. They also share some of their underlying genetics, and now a study in which over 100,000 genomes were analyzed has enabled scientists to show 114 locations in the genome implicating pathways shared between the two illnesses, and four genome regions that contribute to differences in their biology. The research highlights the potential for genetics to improve diagnoses and personalize treatments.“
‘A Revealing Genetic Comparison of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder’ — Brain & Behavior Research Foundation; Journal of the American Medical Association
“After a long battle with bipolar disorder, a West Australian woman has started a mental health peer-support network and found a form of therapy that works — supporting others.”
‘Battling bipolar without support drives Albany woman to start mental health support network’ — Australian Broadcasting Corporation
“Raising children with mental health conditions is challenging. Patience can wear thin, because you want your child to do the things you need them to do. Frustration can leak into your communication. Walls can go up. Instead of loving each other, you feel like you’re at war.
“When I really examined my frustrations, I noticed a lot of my anger came from a place of shame. I wanted my kids to act “appropriately” in public. When they didn’t, I would get frustrated. I cared more about what others thought of me than what my children thought of me—but that was getting my family nowhere. It especially wasn’t helping my children and their recovery.
“If you’re a parent raising children with mental illness, I want more than anything for you not to make the same mistakes I made. So here are some of the most crucial lessons I’ve learned about supporting a child experiencing mental illness…”
‘Raising Children With Mental Illness’ — NAMI Blogs
“For more than two decades, scientists have experimented with the technology to set up controlled scenarios to study autistic traits. At the same time, some teams have used VR to create role-playing environments for practicing social skills. Increasingly, however, people with autism are using VR to convey their own experiences, both to raise awareness of the condition and to capture the cognitive and perceptual differences that characterize it. Some experts hope these efforts will lead to new research collaborations and applications.”
‘How virtual reality is transforming autism studies’ — Spectrum
“Eight years after one of the most infamous retractions in science — that of the 1998 paper in The Lancet in which Andrew Wakefield and colleagues in the UK claimed a link between vaccines and autism — the journal Lab Medicine is retracting a paper that relied heavily on the now-discredited work. The paper, by Bernard Rimland and Woody McGinnis, of the Autism Research Institute, in San Diego, California, begins:
‘Vaccinations may be one of the triggers for autism. Substantial data demonstrate immune abnormality in many autistic children consistent with impaired resistance to infection, activation of inflammatory response, and autoimmunity. Impaired resistance may predispose to vaccine injury in autism.‘
“Rimland died in 2006. McGinnis has not responded to a request for comment.”
‘Journal retracts 16-year-old paper based on debunked autism-vaccine study’ — Retraction Watch
“The state of Arizona has canceled a vaccine education program after receiving complaints from parents who don’t immunize their school-age children.
“The pilot online course, modeled after programs in Oregon and Michigan, was created in response to the rising number of Arizona schoolchildren skipping school-required immunizations against diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough because of their parents’ beliefs.
“But some parents, who were worried the optional course was going to become mandatory, complained to the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, which reviews regulations to ensure they are necessary and do not adversely affect the public. The six-member council is appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey, with an ex-officio general counsel.
“Members of the council questioned the state health department about the course after receiving the public feedback about it, emails show. State health officials responded by canceling it.
“The complaints that ended the pilot program came from about 120 individuals and families, including 20 parents who said that they don’t vaccinate their children, records show.”
‘Arizona cancels vaccine program after backlash from parents who don’t vaccinateer’ — The Arizona Republic Online
“An outbreak of measles is rampaging across Europe, taking a huge toll. In the first six months of 2018, there were 41,000 recorded cases of the easily preventable viral infection.
“That six-month period saw nearly double the highest number of cases in a year since 2010 – which was 23,927 in the entire 12 months of 2017 – and lost 37 lives to measles. And according to experts in the US, that’s what America could be facing too if parents don’t vaccinate their children.
“”We have a very serious situation,” pediatric doctor Alberto Villani of Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital and the president of the Italian Pediatric Society in Italy told NBC.
“”People are dying from measles. This was unbelievable five or 10 years ago.”
And, yes, unequivocally, the reason for the severity of the outbreak is the fall in vaccination rates. In order to prevent outbreaks, at least 95 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated with two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
“In some parts of Europe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccination coverage is at less than 70 percent.
‘Because of Anti-Vaxxers, 37 People in Europe Have Died of Measles This Year’ — Science Alert
“Andrew Wakefield, a former gastroenterologist who is now believed to be in a relationship with the model Elle Macpherson, has been awarded the ‘Rusty Razor’ award for pseudoscience by magazine The Skeptic.
“If something is pseudoscientific, it means it appears to be scientific but is not based on any facts or evidence – such as the anti-vaccination movement.
“Wakefield’s so-called research fuelled the ‘anti-vaxx’ movement, by suggesting jabs could make children autistic, but his studies were fabricated.
“Experts have called the paper, published in medical journal The Lancet in 1998, but retracted in 2010, ‘the most damaging medical hoax of the past 100 years’“
doctor Andrew Wakefield who falsely claimed MMR jabs lead to autism is handed ‘bad science’ award – 20 years after his ‘fatally flawed’ report was published’ — Daily Mail Online
“Eighty thousand Americans died of the the flu last season, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s more than the number killed in traffic collisions, from gun violence, or from opioid overdoses.
“It was also the deadliest flu season since 1976, when the agency starting publishing annual influenza trends, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told the Associated Press in late September.
“Seasonal influenza is a killer, even in milder years. Lately, mild flu seasons tend to kill about 12,000 Americans, and more severe flu seasons kill up to 56,000.“
‘80,000 Americans died of the flu last winter. Get your flu shot.’ — Vox