From: New York Times, October 13th, 2016
I chose to read an article detailing the findings of a new study published by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In the study, researchers scanned the brains of patients undergoing treatment for opioid dependence and measured their ability to read and assess the emotions shown on the faces of babies in a series of manipulated photos. This double blind study showed that, compared with control subjects, opioid dependent individuals struggled to produce strong or appropriate responses to the “baby schema”, or a human pathway linked with finding babies “irresistible.” When the opioid dependent individuals were treated with a drug, naltrexone, their ability to respond to the “baby schema” was comparable to the control group response. The article then concluded with quotes and stories from physicians and former addicts, all of whom discussed the problematic nature of these findings in association with both drug addiction and child rearing.
As a medical student this article is incredible important to me. Throughout the first few months of medical school we have focused in both MHCB and APM on addressing the emotional needs of our patients. This article talks about a decreased ability of these patients to respond to the emotions of their children; I see this as a two prong problem, as it will negativel...
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... regarding “baby schema” was oversimplified and still confusing. Given the opportunity to explain these findings to patients, I would say the following:
“Opioid addiction, to medications ranging from pain pills like Vicodin to hard core drugs like heroin, is on the rise in this country. Those drugs can affect your life negatively in many ways, but recently researchers have shown it could be detrimental to one’s parenting ability, as they may not respond as strongly to babies faces as they would normally. Children in addict homes are more likely to present with emotional and physical issues, so it is important to seek help or avoid drugs of this nature all-together if possible. If you are prescribed Vicodin or another opioid pain killer, please only use what the physician advises, and when the pain is bearable, try using ibuprofen, like Motrin or Tylenol, instead.”
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