What Your Patients are Hearing

Maternal infanticide and postpartum psychosis


 

Postpartum psychosis is extremely rare, but when it does occur, the consequences can prove catastrophic.

Dr. Cara Angelotta of Northwestern University, Chicago

Dr. Cara Angelotta

An article in The Atlantic chronicles the nightmare suffered by mothers driven to kill their children.

Cara Angelotta, MD, a forensic psychiatrist affiliated with Northwestern University in Chicago, says the presence of postpartum psychosis also puts mothers’ lives at risk. “Suicide is a major contributor to maternal death in the first year postpartum. [And] postpartum psychosis increases the risk of suicide,” she says.

“People don’t get it,” says Susan Benjamin Feingold, PsyD, a psychologist at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago and an expert in postpartum disorders. “They see baby killers. These women are really sick and need treatment, not punishment.”

On June 1, Illinois became the first state to implement a law that allows judges to consider postpartum psychosis during sentencing. When left untreated, postpartum psychosis might raise the risk of infanticide by about 4%, the article in The Atlantic noted.

Thank you for being a friend

Some senior adults are benefiting from the friendship, security, and invigoration provided by an initiative of several universities in which they share living spaces with students. The arrangement, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, saves the student on housing costs and provides the senior with companionship and assistance with household chores.

But these arrangements have deeper and more enriching benefits.

About 25% of older adults lack family assistance with everyday tasks and live without the companionship that is a hallmark of multiperson households. “It actually gives some peace of mind to that older person,” says Samir Sinha, MD, director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.

“It gives them a greater sense of security and the ability to feel like they can maintain their independence for that much longer.”

Jobs and the deaf community

Hearing loss can cause a retreat from the world. But in one San Francisco neighborhood, it is not a barrier to work. As reported by National Public Radio (NPR), every staff member at Mozzeria is partly or fully deaf. Using pen-and-paper ordering or the tried and true pointing at the menu that eases the interchange between hearing-enabled patrons not versed in American Sign Language and hearing-challenged staff, Mozzeria owners Melody and Russ Stein provide solid employment for people for whom a job could otherwise be elusive. Only about 48% of the deaf community is employed in the United States (compared with 72% of hearing individuals), according to the National Deaf Center.

“We envision that each Mozzeria location will be looked at as a source of both local and national pride,” Melody Stein wrote in a recent article.

An alternative to opioids?

Jelena M. Janjic, PhD, a pain researcher at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, is drawing on her expertise in nanotechnology and her personal experience to develop a means of delivering nonopioid drugs directly to cells in the body. If successful in humans, as it has been in rats, the method would free people from using addictive opioids for pain relief.

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