Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Japan’s Child Kidnapping Problem, The Daily Beast

Japan has a child-kidnapping problem. It’s not strangers snatching the kids on the playground or at the bus-stop; the problem is that when a Japanese national divorces a foreigner overseas, he or she can abduct their children, bring them back to Japan and the law ensures that the parent left behind has no rights to see the children or take them back home. The U.S. State Department reports that there have been over a hundred such kidnappings since 1994—according to a source, the number is closer to 400. Within Japan itself, divorce often means that one parent may have little or no access to the child. Japan’s inability to deal with child abduction partly stems from archaic family law in Japan that does not recognize joint custody. It’s a winner take all system. The law makes it almost impossible for the other parent to even meet the child, if the Japanese partner objects.

DSM-5 Changes to Autism, ADHD Definitions Could Impact Millions of Children, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

A new edition of the psychiatric “bible” will be released May 17, arriving on a wave of controversy that may have a profound influence on children’s mental health care in the United States, particularly around the diagnosis and treatment of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5) is the first major update of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) clinical guidebook in almost 20 years. The DSM-5 expands and alters the diagnosis criteria for several disorders, and in some cases, introduces definitions of “new” psychiatric disorders.

The influence the DSM-5 has on children’s services could be extensive, because its diagnostic criteria are the nation’s most commonly used for identifying and treating mental disorders. Changes in diagnostic criteria, and especially mental disorder definitions, may alter the eligibility for some children to receive specialized education in school or limit certain treatments pediatricians may provide for younger patients.

Mental Disorders Affect 1 in 5 U.S. Children Each Year, New Scientist

As many as one in five children aged 3 to 17 years old experiences a mental health disorder each year, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the most comprehensive review of US children’s mental health yet, the CDC analysed data from 11 ongoing federal epidemiological surveys. Some of these are based on doctors’ diagnoses and prescriptions; others rely on telephone interviews with parents.

By analysing data from 2005 to 2011, the CDC calculated that 13 to 20 per cent of children in the US have some type of mental health disorder annually. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) accounted for the highest number of diagnoses, with 6.8 per cent of children diagnosed with it each year. This was followed by behavioural problems, anxiety and depression.

Prenatal Exposure to Traffic is Associated with Respiratory Infection in Young Children, Science Daily

Living near a major roadway during the prenatal period is associated with an increased risk of respiratory infection developing in children by the age of 3, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.

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