Study finds saliva test­ing pre­dicts ag­gres­sion in boys

Wellness Update - - Health News -

CIN­CI­NATTI, Ohio – A new study in­di­cates that a sim­ple saliva test could be an ef­fec­tive tool in pre­dict­ing vi­o­lent be­hav­ior. The pilot study, led by Cincinnati Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal Med­i­cal Cen­ter, sug­gests a link be­tween sali­vary con­cen­tra­tions of cer­tain hor­mones and ag­gres­sion. Re­searchers, led by Drew Barz­man, MD, a child and ado­les­cent foren­sic psy­chi­a­trist at Cincinnati Chil­dren’s, col­lected saliva sam­ples from 17 boys ages 7– 9 ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal for psy­chi­atric care to iden­tify which chil­dren were most likely to show ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence. The sam­ples, col­lected three times in one day shortly af­ter ad­mis­sion, were tested for lev­els of three hor­mones: testos­terone, de­hy­droepiandros­terone (DHEA) and cor­ti­sol. The sever­ity and fre­quency of ag­gres­sion cor­re­lated with the lev­els of th­ese hor­mones. Barz­man’s team fo­cused on rapid, re­al­time as­sess­ment of vi­o­lence among child and ado­les­cent in­pa­tients, a com­mon prob­lem in psy­chi­atric units. But he be­lieves a fast and ac­cu­rate saliva test could even­tu­ally have sev­eral other ap­pli­ca­tions. “We be­lieve sali­vary hor­mone test­ing has the po­ten­tial to help doc­tors mon­i­tor which treat­ments are work­ing best for their pa­tients,” said Barz­man. “And be­cause men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als are far more likely to be as­saulted on the job than the aver­age worker, it could of­fer a quick way to an­tic­i­pate vi­o­lent be­hav­ior in child psy­chi­atric units. Even­tu­ally, we hope this test­ing might also pro­vide a tool to help im­prove safety in schools.” For this study, the saliva test was used in com­bi­na­tion with other ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior tools, in­clud­ing the Brief Rat­ing of Ag­gres­sion by Chil­dren and Ado­les­cents (BRACHA) ques­tion­naire, an as­sess­ment tool also de­vel­oped by Barz­man’s team to pre­dict ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence in the hos­pi­tal. “This study sam­ple, while small, gives us the data we need to move for­ward,” added Barz­man. “We have more stud­ies planned be­fore we can reach a de­fin­i­tive con­clu­sion, but de­vel­op­ing a new tool to help us an­tic­i­pate vi­o­lent be­hav­ior is our ul­ti­mate goal.”

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