Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Tammuz 5766 - July 12, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Director, Emergency Services, Bikur Cholim Hospital

Let us answer some letters.

1) Can autism be diagnosed before birth?

Autism is a disorder of neurological development. These children are characterized by three elements. First is poor social interaction. They often withdraw or eschew social interactions. We are not speaking about shyness, but rather failure to acknowledge other people. They have problems with communication.

Many do not speak at all. They engage in repetitive movements and say things over and over again, as if they are in their own little world. They do not like to be touched or hugged. They often develop seizures. Some may have learning difficulties or retardation, but some are very bright.

As with most disorders, there is a spectrum of disease and not all autistic children exhibit all the symptoms. Cause is unknown, and treatment requires a multi-disciplinary team of psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists. There is not too much evidence as far as a genetic basis for this disorder. For Websites that offer help for this disorder, check NINDS, an American Governmental Agency, at

The study mentioned in the letter only looked at thirteen cases, and the results may be due to chance alone. Furthermore, trying to diagnose diseases while the fetus is still inside is problematic from a halachic view point.

2) Mrs. W. sent me an article which asked how to get Israelis to live healthier lives. I think the answer is clear: Buy the Yated and read my column!

3) Does losing a job kill?

It can. Stress does cause changes in the hormonal environment of the body which can cause ulcers, heart attack and reduce resistance to disease and cancer. Furthermore, people under stress have unhappier marriages and are more likely to drink or smoke.

What is the solution? Obviously to reduce stress — a tall order for most people.

Here are some suggestions. Do not put off vacations. Realize that your parnossoh is controlled from Above, and pushing yourself to limits is not going to change anything. No one asked anyone to be a superman or superwoman. If your house is impeccably clean and you have 16 kids, I bet you are stressed out. No one expects a clean house with little people around. Exercise to blow off steam as well and do not hold grudges.

Do I practice what I preach? Not so well, but I should.

4) The FDA has put out an advisory — passed by the thin margin of 8 to 7 — warning that the drugs used to combat ADHD (formerly called hyperactivity) have heart risks. They create a rise in blood pressure and in heart rate. Related drugs that are labeled as "natural" — ma huang (called ephedra) and phenylpropanamine (a decongestant) — have already been taken off the market. However, the New England Journal makes it clear that these drugs do help a lot of people and they should not be banned, but only given to those who really need them.

In the case of ma huang, people were taking this herb to get "energy." There is no simple solution: sleep and refreshment is the safest solution.

Write me in care of the Yated.


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