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Child psychiatrist to offer guidance on how to address emotional concerns in primary care :

July 9, 2019

Editor's note:The 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Oct. 25-29 in New Orleans.

Studies have shown an estimated 8% to 12% of young children have psychiatric diagnoses, the most common of which are attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorders.

“The data suggest that the rates are comparable to asthma,” said Mary Margaret Gleason, M.D., FAAP, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.

While general pediatricians may be comfortable diagnosing and treating asthma, they may find mental health concerns more challenging, especially in children under 6.

Dr. Gleason plans to offer guidance during a session titled “Addressing Early Childhood Emotional and Behavioral Concerns” from 9:30-10:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 27 (F3101) in room 352 of the convention center and again from 7:30-8:15 a.m. Monday, Oct. 28 (F4006) in room R06.

Dr. Gleason is triple boarded in pediatrics, general psychiatry and child psychiatry.

“My interest in primary care early childhood mental health comes from all of the experiences that I have had through training as a pediatrician, as a child psychiatrist and then doing specialty work in early childhood mental health since my residency,” she said.

Dr. Gleason said research finally is catching up to what pediatricians and parents have known: The early years are a crucial time for development.

“We are doing a better job of acknowledging that some children, even some very young children, are exposed to experiences that may be detrimental or toxic to their brain development and to their overall health and well-being,” she said, “and then recognizing also that some children can have problems with regulating or organizing their feelings and their behaviors that are not typical and that require intervention.”

During the session, Dr. Gleason will focus on how primary care clinicians can efficiently identify children who have risk factors for mental health problems or concerning symptoms and first-line management approaches.

“The developmental impact of these early emotional and behavioral problems can be profound and interfere with peer relationships, school readiness, even interfere with parental employment, which can have a cascade effect on other social determinants of health,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons that I think it’s so important that we make sure all children have access in their pediatric medical home and in their greater community to clinicians who can identify and address these early childhood emotional and behavioral problems.”

For more coverage of the 2019 AAP National Conference & Exhibition, visit

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