Summer heat poses special risks for individuals with neuropsychiatric challenges
A new study on Bipolar Disorder reminds me that this might be a good time to raise some safety issues for parents about summer heat. But let’s start with the study. Mark Cowen writes:
Results from a Taiwanese study suggest that high daily temperatures are associated with increased hospitalization rates for mood symptoms among patients with bipolar disorder, particularly women.
The researchers found that the risk for hospitalization began to increase when the daily temperature rose above 24.0°C, and continued to increase with higher daily temperatures.
The results support “our hypothesis that environmental factors influenced bipolar disorder hospitalizations,” comment Huey-Jen Su and team from National Cheng Kung University in Tainan.
The researchers found that there was a significant positive association between increasing ambient temperature over 24.0°C and hospital admissions for bipolar disorder the following day.
Specifically, compared with a daily mean temperature ranging from 19.8 to 24.0°C, the relative risk for bipolar disorder admission increased 10%, 15%, 34%, and 51% when the daily mean temperature was over 24.0°C, 27.2°C, 29.0°C, and 30.7°C, respectively.
Read more on News-Medical.net
For those of us used to Fahrenheit:
24.0°C = 75.2°F
27.2°C = 80.96°F
29.0°C = 84.2°F
30.7°C = 87.26°F
Keep in mind that Taiwan’s average annual temperature is around 71.6°F, whereas there is more variability in the U.S., depending on where you live.
The finding that environmental temperature and climatic factors can influence neuropsychiatric disorders is certainly not new, and the relationship between mood disorders and seasonal changes is well documented. But’s not just Bipolar Disorder or mood disorder that’s susceptible to seasonal variations or climate effects. Back in the 1970′s, when I was conducting my doctoral dissertation, I had even noted the correlation between measures and specific environmental factors such as temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure in some patients who had been diagnosed with migraine headaches and/or Raynaud’s Syndrome, and individuals with other disorders may also experience impact from temperature or other climatic factors.
So how can you use this information?
First, if you are parenting a child with a neuropsychiatric disorder, remember to keep your child cool and well-hydrated and avoid over-exertion if it’s very hot out.
Third, be aware that some medications can make your child even more susceptible to heat stroke.
These concerns and precautions do not just apply to the current heat wave or summer or to kids or teens diagnosed with a mood disorder. In September, some of you will be sending your children back into hot school environments. Make sure you have appropriate accommodations and alerts in place to protect their safety.