Enhancing the Fight against Childhood Eating Disorders
Disease is especially tragic when it strikes the youngest among us. This is true of physical ailments as well as diseases of the mind, which can have very real consequences for the body. Childhood eating disorders are such diseases, devastating not only to the youthful patients but to their families and loved ones as well.
Fortunately, innovative treatment at the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital at Sheba Medical Center in Israel aims to put an end to these disorders and free young patients from the dire symptoms. The Department of Child Psychiatry at the Safra Children’s Hospital offers holistic, multi-disciplinary treatment that has achieved success rates higher than the average, even with patients who have undergone prior treatment unsuccessfully.
A Prevalent Problem
Child and adolescent eating disorders can take many forms – bulimia, anorexia, binge eating, and others. These illnesses disproportionately affect girls, who are several times more likely to suffer their effects compared to boys.
Whatever the patient’s gender, the fact remains that roughly 3% of all children 18 years and under worldwide have an eating disorder.
Sadly, many of these cases go undiagnosed as patients are reluctant to speak about them with their family. However, knowing the signs and symptoms can help you recognize the problem.
Some of the symptoms of anorexia, an eating disorder that typically stems from a negative, unrealistic body image, include dry, yellowish skin, brittle hair and nails, weight loss, reduction in muscle mass, and refusal to eat. Bulimia, another common eating disorder in which patients purposefully induce vomiting, is characterized by an inflamed throat and neck, tooth enamel wear, acid reflux, and marks on the fingers from triggering vomiting.
The long-term effects of these diseases can be devastating and include death. Organ failure, heart problems, and severe electrolyte imbalances may also all result from severe eating disorders.
Sheba Medical Center – Providing Hope
Despite the extreme situation and poor quality of life that many child patients with eating disorders face, progress against these diseases is being made at Sheba Medical Center in Israel. There, the Department of Child Psychiatry provides a comprehensive program consisting of individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy to get to the source of their patients’ problems and affect recovery.
Even more, the Department has on staff expert pediatricians, psychiatrists, counselors, nutritionists, and nurses to support the patients and their families. Patients typically spend around six months in the program, and all their medical and psychological needs are taken care of. There’s even a classroom with certified teachers and an instructor specializing in physical education for those with eating disorders.
An Innovative Approach
This innovative approach truly provides hope. While most eating disorder treatments have a success rate of around 50%, Sheba’s program is closer to 60%. This is astonishing when you consider that most of the patients have been unsuccessful in previous treatments. The program treats about 70 patients each year and has seen over 1500 children total.
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